The impact of deforestation in Malaysia has been linked to a steep rise in human cases of a type of malaria usually found in monkeys, scientists have found.

Macaque monkeys are commonly known to carry malaria.

Macaque monkeys are commonly known to carry malaria. Image by David Dennis / CC BY-SA 2.0

The mosquito-borne disease, known as Plasmodium knowlesi malaria, is common in forest-dwelling macaque monkeys and was only recently found for the first time in people, according to a new study published in the journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases. Scientists found a higher risk of Plasmodium knowlesi transmission in areas where land use is changing. With widespread deforestation alongside rapid oil palm and other agricultural expansion, the disease has now become the most common form of human malaria in many areas of Malaysia, and has been reported across Southeast Asia.

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