There are more than 150 named species of Plasmodium that infect various species of vertebrates. Four species are well known as true parasites of humans, utilizing humans almost exclusively as a natural intermediate host in which they cause malaria: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale and P. malariae. In recent years it has become apparent that the simian malaria parasite P. knowlesi also regularly infects humans, as well as its natural monkey intermediate hosts. (Centers for Disease Control Parasites and Health website) Furthermore, it is now apparent that there are likely two distinct Plasmodium species that have both been referred to as P. ovale (Sutherland et al. 2010; Oguike et al. 2011).
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