Expect monkey malaria

Malaria in humans is caused by 4 types of Plasmodium. Similar species of these parasites have been found in mammals such as monkeys. The human malaria parasite is derived from the transformation of the monkey parasite.

While Ebola is ravaging West Africa, monkey malaria, which is three times more severe than human malaria, is spreading in Borneo, Indonesia.

Majid Joya: While Ebola is ravaging West Africa, another animal disease on the other side of the world has begun to attack humans: monkey malaria is now the deadliest form of malaria in Malaysian Borneo, and Balbir Singh of the University of Malaysia in Sarawak warns that adaptation is likely. That goes for human transmission as well.

Humans and monkeys are attacked by different species of the malaria parasite, each carried by a species of mosquito that prefers humans or monkeys to attack. Until 2004/1383, monkey malaria was thought to be very rare in humans, but since then, more advanced diagnostic methods have detected cases of it in Southeast Asia. Since 2008/2008, human cases of this type of malaria in Malaysia have been on a sharp increase until, according to Singh, last year, 68% of malaria hospitalizations in Malaysian Borneo had monkey malaria.

Fortunately, this disease can be treated with standard malaria drugs, but the problem is that it is three times worse than the worst type of human malaria, and what’s worse is that, unlike human malaria, it is transmitted by a mosquito that bites during the day, so it is difficult to escape from this type. Malaria can no longer rely on insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

According to Singh, most of the cases of people contracting this type of malaria are due to the bites of mosquitoes that have bitten a monkey before; Because humans themselves are not carriers of this parasite. But there are fears that deforestation will deprive monkey malaria of its natural host and force it to evolve to be transmitted from human to human.

This parasite, along with the human malaria parasite, has been discovered in the stomachs of mosquitoes that prefer humans. Genetic changes between simian malaria in humans and monkeys suggest this adaptation in the parasite, Singh and his team announced at last week’s American Society for Tropical Medicine conference in New Orleans.

Deforestation is also considered to be one of the culprits of the Ebola mutation from bats to humans. But very few personal reports were presented at the New Orleans conference. The reason for that is the decision of the authorities in charge of the state of New Orleans (everyone who comes from an Ebola-infected area, whether infected or not, must be quarantined for three weeks), which has made it practically impossible for researchers to attend the conference.

20 November 2013 08:43

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