Zoonotic malaria transmission and land use change in Southeast Asia: What is known about the vectors

Bram van de Straat, Boni Sebayang, Matthew J. Grigg, Kyran Staunton, Triwibowo Ambar Garjito, Indra Vythilingam, Tanya L. Russell, Thomas R. Burkot

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Zoonotic Plasmodium infections in humans in many Southeast Asian countries have been increasing, including in countries approaching elimination of human-only malaria transmission. Most simian malarias in humans are caused by Plasmodium knowlesi, but recent research shows that humans are at risk of many different simian Plasmodium species. In Southeast Asia, simian Plasmodium species are mainly transmitted by mosquitoes in the Anopheles leucosphyrus and Anopheles dirus complexes. Although there is some evidence of species outside the Leucosphyrus Group transmitting simian Plasmodium species, these await confirmation of transmission to humans. The vectors of monkey malarias are mostly found in forests and forest fringes, where they readily bite long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques (the natural reservoir hosts) and humans. How changing land-uses influence zoonotic malaria vectors is still poorly understood. Fragmentation of forests from logging, agriculture and other human activities is associated with increased zoonotic Plasmodium vector exposure. This is thought to occur through altered macaque and mosquito distributions and behaviours, and importantly, increased proximity of humans, macaques, and mosquito vectors. Underlying the increase in vector densities is the issue that the land-use change and human activities create more oviposition sites and, in correlation, increases availably of human blood hosts. The current understanding of zoonotic malaria vector species is largely based on a small number of studies in geographically restricted areas. What is known about the vectors is limited: the data is strongest for distribution and density with only weak evidence for a limited number of species in the Leucosphyrus Group for resting habits, insecticide resistance, blood feeding habits and larval habitats. More data are needed on vector diversity and bionomics in additional geographic areas to understand both the impacts on transmission of anthropogenic land-use change and how this significant disease in humans might be controlled.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalMalaria Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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