Sarawak on alert after new malaria bug found

The strain is unusual as it is hosted by animals rather than humans, and causes sufferers’ bodies to become toxic. — Reuters pic

KUCHING, March 20 — The Sarawak Health Department has been placed on high alert following the detection of an entirely new type of malarial parasite known as Knowlesii Malaria at three villages near Kuching.

“Knowlesii Malaria is transmitted from infected monkeys to anopheles mosquitoes which then pass the parasites to humans, and the parasites destroy human’s red cells,” Public Health Assistant Minister Datuk Dr Jerip Susil told Malay Mail Online today.

“The Health Department found the parasites to be more fatal than other types of malarial parasites because they are more destructive to humans’ red blood cells,” he said.

The strain is unusual as it is hosted by animals rather than humans, and causes sufferers’ bodies to become toxic.

Dr Jerip said the first case was detected in January last year when a hunter suffered from an unusually high fever and was found be suffering from a new form of malarial attack.

This new strain has since spread to Kampung Seratau, Kampung Sedenu and Kampung Kutan.

“We are shocked to learn that this parasite is not found in other parts of the world. It is only endemic to the Km15 area, “ he said, adding that the Health Department is monitoring the spread of the disease along the Kuching-Serian road and nearby villages.

Dr Jerip said the Health Department is taking all the necessary precautions such as advising residents in the affected villages to stop hunting in the area where the parasite was detected.

“We also carry out fogging and advise people to use mosquito nets,” he said.

He said some 1,001 cases of malaria were reported last year and 97 so far this year, with no fatalities registered.