Malaria, both Plasmodium falciparum (Welch) and Plasmodium vivax (Grassi & Feletti), has reemerged as a significant public health disease issue in Peru, especially in forested areas in the eastern part of the country. The spread of Anopheles darlingi Root, the principal South American malaria vector, into new areas of Peru is thought to be a factor in this resurgence. However, epidemiological evidence suggests that in malaria endemic areas of eastern Peru where An. darlingi does not occur, other species are involved in malaria transmission. The objective of this study was to analyze Anopheles species collected from 11 provinces within four departments in eastern Peru during 2001 and 2002 for infections with P. falciparum and P. vivax. More than 84,000 Anopheles mosquitoes representing 13 species were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the presence of Plasmodium circumsporozoite (CS) proteins. Of these, only An. darlingi and Anopheles benarrochi Gabaldón, Cova García & López were found positive. In total, 14 (0.98%) of 1,432 pools of An. darlingi were positive for Plasmodium species; specifically 10 (0.70%) pools were positive for P. falciparum, two (0.14%) were positive for P. vivax VK210, and two (0.14%) were positive for P. vivax VK247 proteins. Nine (0.14%) of 6,323 pools of An. benarrochi were positive for Plasmodium; five (0.08%) of 6,323 pools were positive for P. falciparum, two (0.03%) were positive for P. vivax VK247, one (0.02%) was positive for mixed P. vivax VK210/VK247 infections, and one (0.02%) was positive for mixed P. falciparum and P. vivax VK210 CS-proteins. Although infection rates in An. benarrochi were significantly lower (0.14%) than rates found for An. darlingi (0.98%), our data suggest that An. benarrochi may play a role in transmitting and maintaining Plasmodium species in various malaria endemic areas of eastern Peru.
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