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Zoonotic malaria is caused by the protozoan parasite Plasmodium. Human malaria is caused by four different species of Plasmodium: P. falciparum, P. malariae, P. ovale and P. vivax. Humans occasionally become infected with Plasmodium species that normally infect animals, such as P. knowlesi. As yet, there are no reports of human-mosquitohuman transmission of such “zoonotic” forms of malaria.
Direct human to human transmission of P. knowlesi by anophelines has not yet been established to occur in nature. Knowlesi malaria must therefore be presently considered a zoonotic disease.