M.A. Theses: Mike Reid, 2005

Plasmodium sp. Infections in Ex-Captive Bornean Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) Housed at the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine, Pasir Panjang, Kalimantan Tengah, Indonesia

This thesis reports the study of Plasmodium sp. infections in wild-born, ex-captive orangutans housed at the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCC&Q) in Kalimantan, Indonesia. We microscopically examined blood from 1) OCC&Q residents (n=69); 2) newly confiscated orangutans (n=14); and 3) previously released ex-captives (n=2). We observed Plasmodium sp. parasites in blood smears collected from 24 individuals. Blood from these individuals was collected and preserved for species determination using Polymerase Chain Reaction and sequence alignment tools.

We amplified, cloned, and sequenced a ~1500 bp region of the 18S sRNA from 13 of 24 Plasmodium sp. infected animals. Our sequences formed four distinct groupings at the nucleotide level which may represent four Plasmodium sp. infecting orangutans at OCC&Q. Our data suggest cross species infection of orangutans with macaque and human plasmodia, which may have serious implications for conservation and rehabilitation efforts of endangered species.