How does malaria reach islands?

Joseph J. Schall jschall at moose.uvm.edu
Thu Jul 28 16:21:48 EST 1994


I have been studying the distribution of malarial parasites of lizards in 
the Caribbean islands.  How do these parasites reach islands?  
Parasitological lore holds that malaria comes to islands in its 
vertebrate host rather than in the vector.  This is assumed because only 
a very small fraction of a vector population is infected, and only a 
small fraction of these ever live long enough to pass the parasite to 
another vertebrate host.  So, the chance that an infected mosquito could 
be blown (fly?) to an island, live through this, and then take another 
blood meal is small.  An infected vertebrate host is much more likely to 
move from mainland to island, or from island to island....and arrive on 
an island where the vector species has already become established.  

Any opinions on this tale?  Anyone know of references that argue this way, 
with any kind of supporting data, or is this story just another 
parasitology tale without real support?  Thanks   Joe Schall



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