Malaria may have jumped from animals to humans in the same way modern human pandemics such as swine flu began, according to new research.
Scientists say the disease was passed on from chimpanzees in central Africa as recently as 10,000 years ago. This is a vital breakthrough in the long-running battle to develop a vaccine , Daily Mail reports.
Meanwhile, the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium falciparum may have been transmitted to human beings as recently as 10,000 years ago, Francisco Ayala of the University of California Irvine and colleagues said.
"When malaria transferred to humans, it became very severe very quickly," Ayala said in a statement , Reuters reports.
However, Chimpanzees have been known to harbour a parasite, Plasmodium reichenowi, which is closely related to Plasmodium falciparum, the dominant malaria parasite in humans, but it was widely assumed that these parasites had coexisted separately in chimpanzee and human ancestors for five million years , Livemint reports.