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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Warning: monkey malaria in Sabah!

Health officials are intensifying hunt for Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit Plasmodium knowlesi malaria from monkeys to humans
Sabah health authorities are intensifying their hunt for Anopheles mosquitoes that are known for transmitting malaria from monkeys to humans.

Infectious Disease Society of Kota Kinabalu president Dr Timothy William said health officials were optimising the treatment for the emerging disease called Plasmodium knowlesi malaria, or more commonly known as monkey malaria, in humans through early detection, reported The Star.

“Steps are being taken to reduce the mosquitoes’ breeding sites apart from spraying insecticides where these insects are prevalent,” he said.

“Those suffering from monkey malaria are given immediate treatment with Artemisinin combination therapy,” said William, the principal investigator of an international study on monkey malaria and co-author of the report that was recently published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

He said severe cases were referred early to tertiary care hospitals.

“P knowlesi is a complex and potentially life-threatening parasite,” said Chris Drakeley, Professor of Infection & Immunity from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Drakeley, who is also the principal collaborator on the study, said conventional approaches, such as drugs or bed nets, could not be used to combat P knowlesi as monkeys were the host and the risk was associated with outdoor work.

“We will continue to work with the Malaysian health ministry to improve awareness and education for local residents about areas of risk and how they can prevent mosquito bites,” he said.

Dr Matthew Grigg, Menzies Research fellow and lead author of the study, said Malaysia’s national malaria eradication plan was extremely effective in reducing case numbers of other types of malaria.

“However, we found that cases of monkey malaria are on the rise due to a number of human behavioural factors such as farming, land-clearing activities, working on oil palm plantations, and travelling or sleeping outside,” he said.

He said their study offered important insight into where social interventions were likely to have the biggest impact to reduce cases of monkey malaria.

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