The zoonotic malaria species Plasmodium knowlesi has become the main cause of human malaria in Malaysian Borneo. Deforestation and associated environmental and population changes have been hypothesized as main drivers of this apparent emergence. We gathered village-level data for P. knowlesi incidence for the districts of Kudat and Kota Marudu in Sabah state, Malaysia, for 2008-2012. We adjusted malaria records from routine reporting systems to reflect the diagnostic uncertainty of microscopy for P. knowlesi. We also developed negative binomial spatial autoregressive models to assess potential associations between P. knowlesi incidence and environmental variables derived from satellite-based remote-sensing data. Marked spatial heterogeneity in P. knowlesi incidence was observed, and village-level numbers of P. knowlesi cases were positively associated with forest cover and historical forest loss in surrounding areas. These results suggest the likelihood that deforestation and associated environmental changes are key drivers in P. knowlesi transmission in these areas.
Deaths from Plasmodium knowlesi malaria have been linked to delayed parenteral treatment. In Malaysia, early intravenous artesunate is now recommended for all severe malaria cases. We describe P. knowlesi fatalities in Sabah, Malaysia, during 2012-2014 and report species-specific fatality rates based on 2010-2014 case notifications. Sixteen malaria-associated deaths (caused by PCR-confirmed P. knowlesi , P. falciparum , and P. vivax  and microscopy-diagnosed "P. malariae" ) were reported during 2012-2014. Six patients with severe P. knowlesi malaria received intravenous artesunate at hospital admission. For persons ≥15 years of age, overall fatality rates during 2010-2014 were 3.4, 4.2, and 1.0 deaths/1,000 P. knowlesi, P. falciparum, and P. vivax notifications, respectively; P. knowlesi-associated fatality rates fell from 9.2 to 1.6 deaths/1,000 notifications. No P. knowlesi-associated deaths occurred among children, despite 373 notified cases. Although P. knowlesi malaria incidence is rising, the notification-fatality rate has decreased, likely due to improved use of intravenous artesunate.
Macacine herpesvirus 1 (MaHV1; B virus) naturally infects macaques (Macaca spp.) and can cause fatal encephalitis in humans. In Peninsular Malaysia, wild macaques are abundant, and translocation is used to mitigate human-macaque conflict. Most adult macaques are infected with MaHV1, although the risk for transmission to persons who handle them during capture and translocation is unknown. We investigated MaHV1 shedding among 392 long-tailed macaques (M. fascicularis) after capture and translocation by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in Peninsular Malaysia, during 2009-2011. For detection of MaHV1 DNA, PCR was performed on urogenital and oropharyngeal swab samples. Overall, 39% of macaques were shedding MaHV1 DNA; rates of DNA detection did not differ between sample types. This study demonstrates that MaHV1 was shed by a substantial proportion of macaques after capture and transport and suggests that persons handling macaques under these circumstances might be at risk for exposure to MaHV1.
During November 2012-July 2013, a marked increase of adenovirus type 7 (Ad7) infections associated with severe disease was documented among pediatric patients in Singapore. Phylogenetic analysis revealed close genetic links with severe Ad7 outbreaks in China, Taiwan, and other parts of Asia.
Of the ≈400 cases of avian influenza (H7N9) diagnosed in China since 2003, the only travel-related cases have been in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Detection of a case in a Chinese tourist in Sabah, Malaysia, highlights the ease with which emerging viral respiratory infections can travel globally.
In 2010, chikungunya virus of the East Central South African genotype was isolated from 4 children in Myanmyar who had dengue-like symptoms. Phylogenetic analysis of the E1 gene revealed that the isolates were closely related to isolates from China, Thailand, and Malaysia that harbor the A226V mutation in this gene.
An outbreak of fever associated with myalgia and myositis occurred in 2012 among 89 of 92 college students and teachers who visited Pangkor Island, Malaysia. The Sarcocystis nesbitti 18S rRNA gene and sarcocysts were obtained from muscle tissues of 2 students. Our findings indicate emergence of S. nesbitti infections in humans in Malaysia.
We conducted cross-sectional and longitudinal studies to determine the distribution of and risk factors for seropositivity to Nipah virus (NiV) among Pteropus vampyrus and P. hypomelanus bats in Peninsular Malaysia. Neutralizing antibodies against NiV were detected at most locations surveyed. We observed a consistently higher NiV risk (odds ratio 3.9) and seroprevalence (32.8%) for P. vampyrus than P. hypomelanus (11.1%) bats. A 3-year longitudinal study of P. hypomelanus bats indicated nonseasonal temporal variation in seroprevalence, evidence for viral circulation within the study period, and an overall NiV seroprevalence of 9.8%. The seroprevalence fluctuated over the study duration between 1% and 20% and generally decreased during 2004-2006. Adult bats, particularly pregnant, with dependent pup and lactating bats, had a higher prevalence of NiV antibodies than juveniles. Antibodies in juveniles 6 months-2 years of age suggested viral circulation within the study period.
Human infections with Nipah virus in Malaysia and Bangladesh are associated with markedly different patterns of transmission and pathogenicity. To compare the 2 strains, we conducted an in vivo study in which 2 groups of ferrets were oronasally exposed to either the Malaysia or Bangladesh strain of Nipah virus. Viral shedding and tissue tropism were compared between the 2 groups. Over the course of infection, significantly higher levels of viral RNA were recovered from oral secretions of ferrets infected with the Bangladesh strain. Higher levels of oral shedding of the Bangladesh strain of Nipah virus might be a key factor in onward transmission in outbreaks among humans.
A cholera outbreak in Terengganu, Malaysia, in November 2009 was caused by 2 El Tor Vibrio cholerae variants resistant to typical antimicrobial drugs. Evidence of replacement of treatable V. cholerae infection in the region with antimicrobial-resistant strains calls for increased surveillance and prevention measures.
In March 2011, an outbreak of acute respiratory disease was reported at the Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) Police Training Centre. Approximately 100 trainees were hospitalized and 5 were admitted to the intensive care unit. Three of these 5 trainees died. Human adenovirus type 7 was identified as the etiologic agent.
Nipah virus (NiV) is a highly pathogenic paramyxovirus that causes fatal encephalitis in humans. The initial outbreak of NiV infection occurred in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998-1999; relatively small, sporadic outbreaks among humans have occurred in Bangladesh since 2001. We characterized the complete genomic sequences of identical NiV isolates from 2 patients in 2008 and partial genomic sequences of throat swab samples from 3 patients in 2010, all from Bangladesh. All sequences from patients in Bangladesh comprised a distinct genetic group. However, the detection of 3 genetically distinct sequences from patients in the districts of Faridpur and Gopalganj indicated multiple co-circulating lineages in a localized region over a short time (January-March 2010). Sequence comparisons between the open reading frames of all available NiV genes led us to propose a standardized protocol for genotyping NiV; this protcol provides a simple and accurate way to classify current and future NiV sequences.
The simian parasite Plasmodium knowlesi causes severe human malaria; the optimal treatment remains unknown. We describe the clinical features, disease spectrum, and response to antimalarial chemotherapy, including artemether-lumefantrine and artesunate, in patients with P. knowlesi malaria diagnosed by PCR during December 2007-November 2009 at a tertiary care hospital in Sabah, Malaysia. Fifty-six patients had PCR-confirmed P. knowlesi monoinfection and clinical records available for review. Twenty-two (39%) had severe malaria; of these, 6 (27%) died. Thirteen (59%) had respiratory distress; 12 (55%), acute renal failure; and 12, shock. None experienced coma. Patients with uncomplicated disease received chloroquine, quinine, or artemether-lumefantrine, and those with severe disease received intravenous quinine or artesunate. Parasite clearance times were 1-2 days shorter with either artemether-lumefantrine or artesunate treatment. P. knowlesi is a major cause of severe and fatal malaria in Sabah. Artemisinin derivatives rapidly clear parasitemia and are efficacious in treating uncomplicated and severe knowlesi malaria.
Ancestral sylvatic dengue virus type 1, which was isolated from a monkey in 1972, was isolated from a patient with dengue fever in Malaysia. The virus is neutralized by serum of patients with endemic DENV-1 infection. Rare isolation of this virus suggests a limited spillover infection from an otherwise restricted sylvatic cycle.
We isolated and characterized Nipah virus (NiV) from Pteropus vampyrus bats, the putative reservoir for the 1998 outbreak in Malaysia, and provide evidence of viral recrudescence. This isolate is monophyletic with previous NiVs in combined analysis, and the nucleocapsid gene phylogeny species.