Health officials in Germany are advising physicians, infectious disease specialists and travel medicine specialists to be aware of the potential of importation of the “Monkey malaria”, Plasmodium knowlesi in travelers returning from endemic countries.
Experts from the Department of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Medical Center of the University of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich describe two cases in a letter to ProMed Mail Tuesday.
The first case was from Dec. 2013 where a a 73-year-old male German contracted the parasite during a 3-week travel in Thailand and Myanmar.
The more recent case from Nov. 2014 involved a a 52-year old German woman who contracted the malaria also in Thailand.
The authors note that these two cases are included in the four total imported cases in Germany. All German patients had visited forested areas in Southern Thailand (Ranong province, Khao Sok, and Kra Buri National Parks) inhabited by the natural monkey host, the macaque.
Plasmodium knowlesi, “the fifth human malaria”, is mostly found is mostly found in South East Asian countries particularly in Borneo, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
Mosquitoes belonging to the Anopheles leucosphyrus group are known to transmit P. knowlesi from monkeys to humans.