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Monkey malaria widespread in humans and potentially fatal
Date:1/15/2008

s clinically less important as P. falciparum infections are treated with a degree of urgency and P. knowlesi responds to the same treatment. However, misdiagnosis as the more benign slower growing parasite P. malariae is a problem.

P. knowlesi is unprecedented among the malaria parasites of humans and non-human primates as it reproduces every 24 hours, and one of the features of fatal P. knowlesi infections is the high number of infected red blood cells in these patients. Therefore, even a short delay in accurate diagnosis and treatment could lead to the rapid onset of complications, including liver and kidney failure, and death.

Using DNA detection methods, Professor Cox-Singh and colleagues found malaria infection with P. knowlesi to be widely distributed in Malaysian Borneo and mainland Malaysia, sometimes proving fatal. In addition, single human infections have been reported in Thailand and Myanmar.

"I believe that if we look at malaria infections in South East Asia more carefully, we will find that this potentially fatal type of the disease is more widespread than is currently thought," says Professor Cox-Singh. "Given the evident severity of the illness that it causes, I would recommend that doctors treating patients with a laboratory diagnosis of P. malariae remain alert to the possibility that they may be dealing with the potentially more aggressive P. knowlesi. This would be particularly important in patients who have spent time in the forest fringe areas of South East Asia where the non-human primate host exists."


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Contact: Craig Brierley
c.brierley@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7329
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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