Malaysian macaque monkeys present malaria risk to humans

Malaysian macaque monkeys present malaria risk to humans.
Malaysian macaque monkeys present malaria risk to humans.
Malaysian macaque monkeys, common in region-specific forests, have become a vector for malaria among humans, according to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The study, which examines the migratory habits of the monkey in areas recently deforested, reveals that monkeys forced to live in open areas are more likely to contract malaria. This study brings together the region’s mosquitoes, monkeys and humans, as the monkeys wander into populated areas in search of shelter. Land use, it shows, affects forest density, which changes macaque habitats and increases the risk of infected monkey encounters with humans.

The study, said lead author Kimberly Fornance, shows “the dramatic rise in the number of P. knowlesi malaria cases in humans in Malaysia in the past ten years has been most common in areas with deforestation, as well as areas that are close to patches of forest where humans, macaques and mosquitoes are coming into closer and more frequent contact.”

Land use, as well as concern for wildlife affected by deforestation, must become a consideration as land is developed. Failure to attend to the reality of malaria transmission can make forests hotbeds of disease, placing humans in significant danger. Work on malaria containment and more effective vaccination is ongoing -- but is not a substitute for care for the environment and the animals native to it.

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London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

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