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A pet macaque touches the hand of its owner at a village in Kota Marudu, Sabah, Malaysia, Friday, March 17, 2017. Deforestation has led to an influx of human interaction with macaques. (Joshua Paul for LSHTM)


MONKEYBAR is a multidisciplinary project of researchers in the UK, Australia, the Philippines and Malaysia seeking to identify risk factors and control strategies for Plasmodium knowlesi, a zoonotic malaria carried by macaques.

Bottom Content MONKEYBAR
Kimberly Fornace, center, a LSHTM research fellow listens to local woman, left, living in a longhouse during blood sampling and interview in Kota Marudu, Sabah, Malaysia, Friday, March 17, 2017. (Joshua Paul for LSHTM)
Kimberly Fornace listens to local woman during blood sampling and interview in Kota Marudu. (Joshua Paul for LSHTM)

The MONKEYBAR project is a multidisciplinary collaborative research project on the zoonotic malaria, Plasmodium knowlesi, funded by a 5-year grant from the UK Research Councils (2012-2017).

In the last decade, reports have emerged from Malaysia of naturally acquired human infections of P. knowlesi, a malaria parasite that was previously thought only to infect long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques in Southeast Asia. This is a potentially serious public health problem and cause severe and fatal malaria.

Factors determining the emergence of this zoonotic infection are largely undescribed and it is hypothesised that environmental change is driving P. knowlesi into certain human populations. Using an interdisciplinary network of researchers in the UK, the Philippines and Malaysia, this project seeks to characterise the environment (socio-economic and natural) that supports P. knowlesi infection in its hosts and vectors, to determine risk factors for exposure in humans and to inform and target control measures.

This project focuses on research sites in Sabah, Malaysia and Palawan, the Philippines. Key impacts include:

  • First study linking deforestation with P. knowlesi
  • Use of drones for infectious disease epidemiology research
  • Contribution to WHO guidelines for treatment and management of P. knowlesi
  • Identification of main mosquito vector for P. knowlesi in Northern Sabah, Malaysia

Individual risk factors for clinical P. knowlesi infection.

Who we are
Who we are MONKEYBAR
Kimberly Fornace poses for a group photo with UMS staff in Ranau, Sabah, Malaysia. (Joshua Paul for LSHTM)
Kimberly Fornace poses for a group photo with UMS staff in Ranau, Sabah, Malaysia. (Joshua Paul for LSHTM)


LSHTM Staff: Prof Chris Drakeley (PI), Kimberly Fornace


External collaborators:

Benoit Goossens, Senthilvel Nathan, Milena Salgado-Lynn (Danau Girang Field Centre / Sabah Wildlife Department, Malaysia); Timothy William (Infectious Disease Society Kota Kinabalu Sabah, Malaysia); Steve Torr (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK); Malaysian Ministry of Health; Nick Anstey (Menzies School of Health Research, Australia); Fe Espino, Ferdinand Salazar (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Philippines); Royal Veterinary College, UK; Indra Vythilingam (University of Malaya, Malaysia); Chua Tock Hing, Kntayya Mariappan, Paul Porodong (Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Malaysia); Heather Ferguson, Rowland Kao, Paddy Brock (University of Glasgow, UK); Judeline Dimalibot (University of the Philippines Los Baños); Martha Betson (University of Surrey, UK)

Selected press coverage
By cutting down forests, humans may be giving themselves malaria

Deforestation in Malaysian Borneo is believed to be a driver of malaria transmission in humans, according to new research.

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Drones Are Taking Pictures That Could Demystify A Malaria Surge

Aerial drones are targeting a new enemy: malaria.

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How Drones Are Fighting Infectious Disease

The senseFly eBee drone is being used to map the areas affected by a type of malaria that commonly affects macaque monkeys and is now being spread to humans.

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Deforestation linked to rise in cases of emerging zoonotic malaria

December 2015

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Drones help scientists understand emerging zoonotic malaria

October 2014

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