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Using Mitochondrial Genome Sequences to Track the Origin of Imported Plasmodium vivax Infections Diagnosed in the United States

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  • Department of Parasitology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; Department of Parasitology, Gorgas Memorial Institute of Health, Panama City, Panama; Center for Global Health, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
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Although the geographic origin of malaria cases imported into the United States can often be inferred from travel histories, these histories may be lacking or incomplete. We hypothesized that mitochondrial haplotypes could provide region-specific molecular barcodes for tracing the origin of imported Plasmodium vivax infections. An analysis of 348 mitochondrial genomes from worldwide parasites and new sequences from 69 imported malaria cases diagnosed across the United States allowed for a geographic assignment of most infections originating from the Americas, southeast Asia, east Asia, and Melanesia. However, mitochondrial lineages from Africa, south Asia, central Asia, and the Middle East, which altogether contribute the vast majority of imported malaria cases in the United States, were closely related to each other and could not be reliably assigned to their geographic origins. More mitochondrial genomes are required to characterize molecular barcodes of P. vivax from these regions.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Marcelo U. Ferreira, Department of Parasitology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of São Paulo, Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes 1374, 05508-900 São Paulo (SP), Brazil. E-mail: muferrei@usp.br

Financial support: This research was supported by funds from the National Institutes of Health, United States (Grant R01 AI 075416), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States, the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP), Brazil (Grant 2010/50333-8), and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Brazil (Grant 590106/2011-2). P.T.R. received a scholarship from the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Brazil and is currently supported by CNPq. J.M.P.A. is currently supported by FAPESP. M.U.F. received a senior research scholarship from CNPq, Brazil.

Authors' addresses: Priscila T. Rodrigues, João Marcelo P. Alves, and Marcelo U. Ferreira, Department of Parasitology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, E-mails: priscilathihara@usp.br, alvesjmp@gmail.com, and muferrei@usp.br. Ana María Santamaria and José E. Calzada, Department of Parasitology, Gorgas Memorial Institute of Health, Panama City, Panama, E-mails: asantamaria@gorgas.gob.pa and jcalzada@gorgas.gob.pa. Maniphet Xayavong, Monica Parise, and Alexandre J. da Silva, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Center for Global Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, E-mails: max1@cdc.gov, mep01@cdc.gov, and abs8@cdc.gov.

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