The seasonal dynamics and biting behavior of potential Anopheles vectors of Plasmodium knowlesi in Palawan, Philippines

Malijan, R. P. B. et al. (2021) The seasonal dynamics and biting behavior of potential Anopheles vectors of Plasmodium knowlesi in Palawan, Philippines. Parasites and Vectors, 14, 357. (doi: 10.1186/s13071-021-04853-9) (PMID:34233742) (PMCID:PMC8261946)

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Background: A small number of human cases of the zoonotic malaria Plasmodium knowlesi have been reported in Palawan Island, the Philippines. Identification of potential vector species and their bionomics is crucial for understanding human exposure risk in this setting. Here, we combined longitudinal surveillance with a trap-evaluation study to address knowledge gaps about the ecology and potential for zoonotic spillover of this macaque malaria in Palawan Island. Methods: The abundance, diversity and biting behavior of human-biting Anopheles mosquitoes were assessed through monthly outdoor human landing catches (HLC) in three ecotypes representing different land use (forest edge, forest and agricultural area) across 8 months. Additionally, the host preference and biting activity of potential Anopheles vectors were assessed through comparison of their abundance and capture time in traps baited with humans (HLC, human-baited electrocuting net—HEN) or macaques (monkey-baited trap—MBT, monkey-baited electrocuting net—MEN). All female Anopheles mosquitoes were tested for the presence of Plasmodium parasites by PCR. Results: Previously incriminated vectors Anopheles balabacensis and An. flavirostris accounted for > 95% of anophelines caught in longitudinal surveillance. However, human biting densities were relatively low (An. balabacensis: 0.34–1.20 per night, An. flavirostris: 0–2 bites per night). Biting densities of An. balabacensis were highest in the forest edge, while An. flavirostris was most abundant in the agricultural area. The abundance of An. balabacensis and An. flavirostris was significantly higher in HLC than in MBT. None of the 357 female Anopheles mosquitoes tested for Plasmodium infection were positive. Conclusions: The relatively low density and lack of malaria infection in Anopheles mosquitoes sampled here indicates that exposure to P. knowlesi in this setting is considerably lower than in neighboring countries (i.e. Malaysia), where it is now the primary cause of malaria in humans. Although anophelines had lower abundance in MBTs than in HLCs, An. balabacensis and An. flavirostris were caught by both methods, suggesting they could act as bridge vectors between humans and macaques. These species bite primarily outdoors during the early evening, confirming that insecticide-treated nets are unlikely to provide protection against P. knowlesi vectors.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ferguson, Professor Heather
Authors: Malijan, R. P. B., Mechan, F., Braganza Jr, J. C., Valle, K. M. R., Salazar, F. V., Torno, M. M., Aure, W. E., Backay, B. A., Espino, F. E., Torr, S. J., Fornace, K. M., Drakeley, C., and Ferguson, H. M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Parasites and Vectors
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN (Online):1756-3305
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Parasites and Vectors 14: 357
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
167761Defining the biomedical, environmental and social risk factors for human infection with Plasmodium knowlesiHeather FergusonMedical Research Council (MRC)G1100796/1Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine