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Malaria and Hepatocystis Species in Wild Macaques, Southern Thailand

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  • 1 Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, and Primate Research Unit, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand; Department of Biology, Naresuan University, Pitsanulok Province, Thailand; Department of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
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Southeast Asian macaques are natural hosts for a number of nonhuman primate malaria parasites; some of these can cause diseases in humans. We conducted a cross-sectional survey by collecting 99 blood samples from Macaca fascicularis in southern Thailand. Giemsa-stained blood films showed five (5.1%) positive samples and six (6.1%) isolates had positive test results by polymerase chain reaction. A phylogenetic tree inferred from the A-type sequences of the small subunit ribosomal RNA gene confirmed Plasmodium inui in five macaques; one of these macaques was co-infected with P. coatneyi. Hepatocystis, a hemoprotozoan parasite transmitted by Culicoides, was identified in an isolate that was confirmed by analysis of mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences. All malaria-infected monkeys lived in mangrove forests, but no infected monkeys were found in an urban area. These findings indicate regional differences in malaria distribution among these macaques, as well as differences in potential risk of disease transmission to humans.

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