Background: Plasmodium knowlesi is a simian parasite that has been recognized as the fifth species causing human malaria. Naturally-acquired P. knowlesi infection is widespread among human populations in Southeast Asia. The aim of this epidemiological study was to determine the incidence and distribution of malaria parasites, with a particular focus on human P. knowlesi infection in Malaysia. Methods. A total of 457 microscopically confirmed, malaria-positive blood samples were collected from 22 state and main district hospitals in Malaysia between September 2012 and December 2013. Nested PCR assay targeting the 18S rRNA gene was used to determine the infecting Plasmodium species. Results: A total of 453 samples were positive for Plasmodium species by using nested PCR assay. Plasmodium knowlesi was identified in 256 (56.5%) samples, followed by 133 (29.4%) cases of Plasmodium vivax, 49 (10.8%) cases of Plasmodium falciparum, two (0.4%) cases of Plasmodium ovale and one (0.2%) case of Plasmodium malariae. Twelve mixed infections were detected, including P. knowlesi/P. vivax (n = 10), P. knowlesi/P. falciparum (n = 1), and P. falciparum/P. vivax (n = 1). Notably, P. knowlesi (Included mixed infections involving P. knowlesi (P. knowlesi/P. vivax and P. knowlesi /P. falciparum)) showed the highest proportion in Sabah (84/115 cases, prevalence of 73.0%), Sarawak (83/120, 69.2%), Kelantan (42/56, 75.0%), Pahang (24/25, 96.0%), Johor (7/9, 77.8%), and Terengganu (4/5, 80.0%,). In contrast, the rates of P. knowlesi infection in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan were found to be 16.2% (18/111 cases) and 50.0% (5/10 cases), respectively. Sample of P. knowlesi was not obtained from Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Perak, Pulau Pinang, and Perlis during the study period, while a microscopically-positive sample from Kedah was negative by PCR. Conclusion: In addition to Sabah and Sarawak, which have been known for high prevalence of P. knowlesi infection, the findings from this study highlight the widespread distribution of P. knowlesi in many Peninsular Malaysia states. © 2014 Yusof et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Yusof, R., Lau, Y. L., Mahmud, R., Fong, M. Y., Jelip, J., Ngian, H. U., … Mohd Ali, M. (2014). High proportion of knowlesi malaria in recent malaria cases in Malaysia. Malaria Journal, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2875-13-168