Raising monkeys, living near forests carries increased malaria risk – health officials

Raising monkeys, living near forests carries increased malaria risk – health officials

The Department of Disease Control warns of an increased risk of malaria for people living on the fringes of forests or breeding monkeys. According to a Thai report by PBS World, the parasite Plasmodium Knowlesi Malaria is responsible for the majority of human cases of malaria in the region.


Dr. Opart Karkawinpong explains that malaria can be transmitted from primates to humans through the bite of a striped mosquito. However, more precise research remains to be done to confirm whether malaria can be transmitted from person to person. Opart claims that the malaria parasite Plasmodium Knowlesi was first reported in Thailand as early as 2004.

The head of the DDC says there were about 70 cases of malaria in the kingdom between October last year and the end of March this year. For comparison, for the same period last year there were only about 10 cases. Opart says most of the recent cases have occurred in the south of the country, including Songkhla and Ranong provinces, but there have also been cases in the eastern province of Trat.



The doctor says malaria vectors can be cynomolgus macaques, pig-tailed macaques, stump-tailed macaques, rhesus macaques and Assam macaques. Symptoms include high fever, chills, and excessive sweating.

People who suspect they have contracted malaria are advised to seek immediate medical attention so that blood tests can be performed. Opart says it's vital that treatment be given promptly to avoid potentially fatal complications. People who have been in the jungle or have been in close contact with macaques are also encouraged to report such trips.

Opart's colleague, Dr Apichart Vachiraphan, says officials are implementing technology to track cases of Plasmodium Knowlesi malaria. Weekly alerts are also issued so that patients can be detected, diagnosed and treated within a week.