Health Dept: Sabah records 57% jump in malaria cases

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah reported more malaria cases as of June 3 this year compared with the same period in 2022.

The Sabah Health Department said the state recorded 840 cases, which was an increase of 57.3% compared with the same epidemiological week last year (534 cases).These cases are mainly zoonotic malaria caused by the parasite Plasmodium knowlesi (P. knowlesi) followed by a small percentage of imported or introduced human malaria cases.

The department said among the malaria cases reported this year, the majority were zoonotic malaria (816 cases or 97.14%) followed by 14 imported human malaria cases (1.67%) and 10 introduced human malaria cases or 1.19%.

Zoonotic malaria usually occurs among individuals residing near forest fringes, plantations and agriculture sites and are involved in activities such as logging, fishing, planting and hunting-gathering.The department said Malaysia had reported zero human indigenous malaria since the year 2018.

“However, there is zoonotic malaria as well as imported human malaria into the country, including Sabah,” it said in a statement.

According to a recent scientific study, the increase in cases of P. knowlesi (malaria monyet) in Malaysia is likely driven by a spillover from macaques to people.P. knowlesi is usually carried by macaques and spread to people when a mosquito bites an infected macaque and then bites a human.

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