Background: Habitat types can affect vector and pathogen distribution and transmission dynamics. The prevalence and genetic diversity of Plasmodium spp. in two eastern chimpanzee populations - Kalinzu Forest Reserve, Uganda and Issa Valley, Tanzania - inhabiting different habitat types was investigated. As a follow up study the effect of host sex and age on infections patterns in Kalinzu Forest Reserve chimpanzees was determined. Methods: Molecular methods were employed to detect Plasmodium DNA from faecal samples collected from savanna-woodland (Issa Valley) and forest (Kalinzu Forest Reserve) chimpanzee populations. Results: Based on a Cytochrome-b PCR assay, 32 out of 160 Kalinzu chimpanzee faecal samples were positive for Plasmodium DNA, whilst no positive sample was detected in 171 Issa Valley chimpanzee faecal samples. Sequence analysis revealed that previously known Laverania species (Plasmodium reichenowi, Plasmodium billbrayi and Plasmodium billcollinsi) are circulating in the Kalinzu chimpanzees. A significantly higher proportion of young individuals were tested positive for infections, and switching of Plasmodium spp. was reported in one individual. Amongst the positive individuals sampled more than once, the success of amplification of Plasmodium DNA from faeces varied over sampling time. Conclusion: The study showed marked differences in the prevalence of malaria parasites among free ranging chimpanzee populations living in different habitats. In addition, a clear pattern of Plasmodium infections with respect to host age was found. The results presented in this study contribute to understanding the ecological aspects underlying the malaria infections in the wild. Nevertheless, integrative long-term studies on vector abundance, Plasmodium diversity during different seasons between sites would provide more insight on the occurrence, distribution and ecology of these pathogens.
- Cyt-b gene
- Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii
- Plasmodium spp.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases