Plasmodiums are protozoa that may infect various hosts like humans, birds, reptiles, rodents or nonhuman primates. Only
five species are now recognized as naturally parasitizing humans: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae, P. ovale and P. knowlesi. This fifth
species, P. knowlesi, previously identified as naturally parasitizing the monkey Macaca fascicularis, has been microscopically confused
for a long time with P. malariae or P. falciparum (according to their respective evolutionary stage) and it was not possible to
correctly differentiate them until the advent of molecular biology. To date, natural human infections with P. knowlesi only occur in
Southeast Asia and a similar phenomenon of natural transmission of simian plasmodium to humans has not been reported elsewhere. This
study was conducted to investigate a possible transmission of African monkey’s plasmodium to humans in populations living near the rainforest
of the Democratic Republic of Congo where several species of non-human primates are living.
Methods. Three villages of the Equatorial Province of the DRC (North-western) have been selected according to their geographical
localization near the rainforest, wherein one hundred asymptomatic individuals have been randomly selected per village for blood
collection. Two successive real-time PCR were designed: the first one allows the detection of all plasmodium sp. and the second one allows the
detection of the four plasmodium species that infect humans in Africa. Positivity in the first RT- PCR with negativity in the 2nd RT- PCR
would suggest the presence of a non-human plasmodium species.
Results. On the three hundred samples analyzed, 139 (46.3%) were positive for P. falciparum for the two Real-time PCR. No other plasmodium
species has been detected.
Conclusion. Almost of half percent of Congolese equatorial rainforest population presents malaria P. falciparum. But this study did not detect any monkeys‟ plasmodium.
Studies including larger samples with more advanced techniques are needed.
Keywords: monkey plasmodium; Democratic Republic of Congo; RT-PCR; malaria
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