Ana Maria Ribeiro de Castro Duarte, Laís Camoese Salla, Crispim Cerutti Jr., Lícia Natal, Blima Fux, Helder Ricas Rezende, Rosely dos Santos Malafronte, Aloísio Falqueto, Ana Carolina Loss, Priscila Thihara Rodrigues, Julyana Cerqueira Buery, Creuza Rachel Vicente
The transmission of malaria in the extra-Amazonian regions of Brazil, although interrupted in the 1960s, has persisted to the present time in some areas of dense Atlantic Forest, with reports of cases characterized by particular transmission cycles and clinical presentations. Bromeliad-malaria, as it is named, is particularly frequent in the state of Espírito Santo, with Plasmodium vivax being the parasite commonly recognized as the aetiologic agent of human infections. With regard to the spatial and temporal distances between cases reported in this region, the transmission cycle does not fit the traditional malaria cycle. The existence of a zoonosis, with infected simians participating in the epidemiology, is therefore hypothesized. In the present study, transmission of bromeliad-malaria in Espírito Santo is investigated, based on the complete mitochondrial genome of DNA extracted from isolates of Plasmodium species, which had infected humans, a simian from the genus Allouata, and Anopheles mosquitoes. Plasmodium vivax/simium was identified in the samples by both nested PCR and real-time PCR. After amplification, the mitochondrial genome was completely sequenced and compared with a haplotype network which included all sequences of P. vivax/simium mitochondrial genomes sampled from humans and simians from all regions in Brazil. The haplotype network indicates that humans and simians from the Atlantic Forest become infected by the same haplotype, but some isolates from humans are not identical to the simian isolate. In addition, the plasmodial DNA extracted from mosquitoes revealed sequences different from those obtained from simians, but similar to two isolates from humans. These findings strengthen support for the hypothesis that in the Atlantic Forest, and especially in the state with the highest frequency of bromeliad-malaria in Brazil, parasites with similar molecular backgrounds are shared by humans and simians. The recognized identity between P. vivax and P. simium at the species level, the sharing of haplotypes, and the participation of the same vector in transmitting the infection to both host species indicate interspecies transference of the parasites. However, the intensity, frequency and direction of this transfer remain to be clarified.