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Intensive deforestation in Malaysia’s rainforests is exposing more humans to a type of malaria previously found only in long-tail and pig-tail macaques, report an international team of investigators (Fornace KM et al. Emerg Infect Dis. 2016;22:201-209).
An increase in the number of human infections with the zoonotic malaria species Plasmodium knowlesi have been noted in Malaysian Borneo over the last decade, and it is now the leading cause of human malaria in the region. Deforestation has been suggested to drive this emergence by promoting closer contact between humans and mosquitoes that bear the pathogen—primarily Anopheles leucosphyrus mosquitoes—through spatial overlap between villages and macaques living in nearby forests.
Friedrich MJ. Deforestation Clears Way for Zoonotic Malaria in Malaysia. JAMA. 2016;315(11):1100. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.1702