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May 3, 2016
Mapping forest habitats of Plasmodium knowlesi vectors

Moyes et al have published Predicting the geographical distributions of the macaque hosts and mosquito vectors of Plasmodium knowlesi malaria in forested and non-forested areas in Parasites & Vectors.

Plasmodium knowlesi is a zoonotic pathogen, transmitted among macaques and to humans by anopheline mosquitoes. Information on P. knowlesi malaria is lacking in most regions so the first step to understand the geographical distribution of disease risk is to define the distributions of the reservoir and vector species.

From the fine-scale distribution maps generated in this paper for three macaque host species (Macaca fascicularis, M. nemestrina and M. leonina) and two mosquito vector complexes (the Dirus Complex and the Leucosphyrus Complex), it can be concluded that the predicted M. fascicularis distribution encompasses a wide range of habitats where humans are found. This is of most significance in the northern part of its range where members of the Dirus Complex are the main P. knowlesi vectors because these mosquitoes were also predicted to occur in a wider range of habitats.

Our results support the hypothesis that conversion of intact forest into disturbed forest (for example plantations or timber concessions), or the creation of vegetation mosaics, will increase the probability that members of the Leucosphyrus Complex occur at these locations, as well as bringing humans into these areas.

An explicit analysis of disease risk itself using infection data is required to explore this further. The species distributions generated here can now be included in future analyses of P. knowlesi infection risk.