Malaria is an extremely common vector-borne disease (VBD) with high levels of morbidity and mortality.  There were an estimated 216 million cases and 655,000 deaths in 2016 [1].  There are currently five malaria species that cause disease in humans.  Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malariae [2] and the most recent – Plasmodium knowlesi – which is now known to cause human malaria whilst previously only being present in primates (this is called a zoonotic transmission – the disease has crossed from a sylvatic cycle to the human population) [3, 4].  Approximately three out of ten people in a Latin American country are at risk of infection [1, 5].  P. vivax is the predominant parasite species in the Americas, accounting for approx. 69% of cases in 2016/17 [1, 6].  This species has the ability to remain for weeks or months as dormant liver-stage parasites – which is an important feature for both treatment and epidemiology because infected patients act as disease reservoirs – creating opportunities for onward transmission in uninfected locations and making harder to achieve elimination [6].  This blood parasite is transmitted by Anopheles spp. mosquitoes and, as with other VBDs, multiple mosquito species are competent vectors and are associated with different geographical regions.  Anopheles darlingi is a predominant malaria vector in Latin America, transmitting both P. falciparum and P. vivax [7].


  1. World Health Organisation. World malaria report 2017. Geneva: World Health Organization. 2017. Available at

  2. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Malaria: Biology. 2018. Available at

  3. White NJ. Plasmodium knowlesi: the fifth human malaria parasite. Clinical infectious diseases: an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. 2008 Jan;46(2):172-3.

  4. Barber BE, Rajahram GS, Grigg MJ, William T, Anstey NM. World Malaria Report: time to acknowledge Plasmodium knowlesi malaria. Malaria journal. 2017 Dec;16(1):135.

  5. Bardach A, Ciapponi A, Rey-Ares L, Rojas JI, Mazzoni A, Glujovsky D, Valanzasca P, Romano M, Elorriaga N, Juri MJ, Boulos M. Epidemiology of malaria in Latin America and the Caribbean from 1990 to 2009: systematic review and meta-analysis. Value in health regional issues. 2015 Dec 1;8:69-79.

  6. Howes RE, Battle KE, Mendis KN, Smith DL, Cibulskis RE, Baird JK, Hay SI. Global epidemiology of Plasmodium vivax. The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene. 2016 Dec 28;95(6_Suppl):15-34.

  7. Laporta GZ, Linton YM, Wilkerson RC, Bergo ES, Nagaki SS, Sant’Ana DC, Sallum MA. Malaria vectors in South America: current and future scenarios. Parasites & vectors. 2015 Dec;8(1):426.