Epidemiological review on emerging & re-emerging parasitic infectious diseases in Malaysia

Public Release: 31-Jan-2020

Malaysia is facing many challenges caused by various parasitic pathogens. The lack of awareness among disadvantaged populations such as the Orang Asli community and the dependency on foreign workers has led to an influx of immigrants to Malaysia from countries endemic with various parasitic diseases. Amoebiasis is mainly encountered in poor rural areas in Malaysia, however it has the potential to re-emerge. Routine mass-drug administration on newly arriving foreign workers and health education programs are needed to prevent its re-emergence.

Researchers from MAHSA University in Malaysia have published a review on the epidemiology of various parasitic diseases in the country over the last 20 years. The report has been published in The Open Microbiology Journal. The report stresses that Malaysian authorities must implement strategies that provide better water treatment to avoid the emergence of blastocystis. Lymphatic filariasis has the potential to re-emerge due to its easy mode of transmission as well as the presence of a large number of immigrant workers in Malaysia from endemic countries. To prevent the emergence of giardiasis in Malaysia, a multidisciplinary approach is required to determine the level of water contamination with Giardia as well as Cryptosporidium. The epidemiology of malaria is becoming more complex in Malaysia. There is a shift towards infections among men and adults rather than women and children. Therefore, the ministry of health should raise public awareness and the use of point-of-care diagnostics.

Malaysia harbors a large variety of ecological niches that favor the transmission of Toxoplasma spp. Which has led to an increase in the incidence of toxoplasmosis. Therefore, surveillance programs should be initiated to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment. The existence of human trypanosomiasis from neighboring Thailand and reporting cases in cattle from neighboring Indonesia, can all lead to its emergence in Malaysia. Parasitic infectious diseases will continue to appear in Malaysia leading to unpredictable outbreaks that challenge healthcare personnel and emphasize the urgent need for effective surveillance and control measures. Despite the challenges, Malaysia is strongly committed to curb the spread of these diseases.

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