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Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz
Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Fiocruz
ISSN: 1678-8060
EISSN: 1678-8060
Vol. 98, No. s1, 2003, pp. 13-19
Bioline Code: oc03004
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Vol. 98, No. s1, 2003, pp. 13-19

 en The Origin and Dispersion of Human Parasitic Diseases in the Old World (Africa, Europe and Madagascar)
Jean-Pierre Nozais


The ancestors of present-day man ( Homo sapiens sapiens check for this species in other resources ) appeared in East Africa some three and a half million years ago (Australopithecs), and then migrated to Europe, Asia, and later to the Americas, thus beginning the differentiation process. The passage from nomadic to sedentary life took place in the Middle East in around 8000 BC.

Wars, spontaneous migrations and forced migrations (slave trade) led to enormous mixtures of populations in Europe and Africa and favoured the spread of numerous parasitic diseases with specific strains according to geographic area.

The three human plasmodia ( Plasmodium falciparum check for this species in other resources , P. vivax, and P. malariae) were imported from Africa into the Mediterranean region with the first human migrations, but it was the Neolithic revolution (sedentarisation, irrigation, population increase) which brought about actual foci for malaria.

The reservoir for Leishmania infantum check for this species in other resources and L. donovani - the dog - has been domesticated for thousands of years. Wild rodents as reservoirs of L. major have also long been in contact with man and probably were imported from tropical Africa across the Sahara. L. tropica, by contrast, followed the migrations of man, its only reservoir.

L. infantum and L. donovani spread with man and his dogs from West Africa. Likewise, for thousands of years, the dog has played an important role in the spread and the endemic character of hydatidosis through sheep (in Europe and North Africa) and dromadary (in the Sahara and North Africa).

Schistosoma haematobium check for this species in other resources and S. mansoni have existed since prehistoric times in populations living in or passing through the Sahara. These populations then transported them to countries of Northern Africa where the specific, intermediary hosts were already present.

Madagascar was inhabited by populations of Indonesian origin who imported lymphatic filariosis across the Indian Ocean (possibly of African origin since the Indonesian sailors had spent time on the African coast before reaching Madagascar). Migrants coming from Africa and Arabia brought with them the two African forms of bilharziosis: S. haematobium and S. mansoni.

human migration - malaria - leishmaniasis - hydatidosis - bilharziasis - lymphatic filariosis - Mediterranean - Madagascar - Africa

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