Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New species of human malaria

Over two-hundred species of malaria exist, but few infect humans. "Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax are the most common. Plasmodium falciparum is the most deadly" (WHO). While investigating the fourth type of human malaria, Plasmodium ovale, scientists "confirmed that the parasite is actually two similar but distinct species which do not reproduce with each other" (London).

"Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Hospital for Tropical Diseases and Mahidol University, Bangkok collaborated last year in order to share their research after noticing that the single parasite Plasmodium ovale, though visible through a microscope, was not detected by forensic DNA tests designed to identify the species."

According to lead researcher, Dr. Colin Sutherland, it "was a great surprise to find that, not only are these two species completely distinct from each other by every test we carried out, they actually occur in people living side by side" in the same towns. "We hope to continue our work so we can unravel the mysterious differences between these two newly recognized human pathogens," he says (Sutherland).

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (2010, April 19). New species of human malaria recognized. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 27, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2010/04/100419150951.htm

Sutherland et al. Two Nonrecombining Sympatric Forms of the Human Malaria Parasite Plasmodium ovale Occur Globally. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2010; 201 (10): 1544 DOI: 10.1086/652240

WHO. "Malaria fact sheet." http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/

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