New Research: Malaria Originated In Gorillas

Sept. 29, 2010, 6:43 a.m.

New Research Shows Malaria Parasite Originated In Gorillas, Not Chimps

The human malaria parasite originated in gorillas, not chimpanzees as previously thought,Scientific American reports, citing new research published in Nature. Scientists analyzed 2,500 samples of primate droppings mostly from wild chips, bonobos, and gorillas and "concluded that the modern human P. falciparum [malaria parasite] has its closest correlates in a variety found in western gorillas" (Harmon, 9/22). The Independent writes: "The findings overturn earlier suggestions based on a more limited study that wild chimpanzees were the original reservoir of the human disease, a theory that can now be discounted, the scientists said" (Connor, 9/23). Larry Slutsker, head of the malaria program at the CDC said the finding could influence malaria control efforts in the future, Reuters reports. "If we were trying to eradicate, meaning we were trying to rid the planet of every last parasite and there was a reservoir in western gorillas, that would have implications for eradication. I don't think we are there, obviously," Slutsker said (9/22).

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