KOTA BARU: The state Health Department believes that wild monkeys could have infected people in Kelantan's interior with malaria.
Deputy director Dr Wan Mansor Wan Hamzah said the monkeys could have carried the "plasmodium knowlesi" virus, which could be transmitted to humans through mosquito bites, resulting in malarial fever.
"The disease can cause death if no immediate action is taken."
He said there was a rise in the number of malaria patients with the most recent cases being detected in Kuala Krai, Jeli, Tanah Merah and Gua Musang.
"We suspect some of them may have contracted the fever from the macaques in the jungles in the districts.
"The malaria parasite is normally transmitted among monkeys by forest-dwelling mosquitoes before they infect humans through their bites."
Dr Wan Mansor said the situation was still under control and there were no casualties to date.
He said those who had higher risks of being infected through such viral transmission included game hunters, foreign workers who lived in jungle quarters, sport fishermen and rubber tappers.
"This high-risk group must avoid carrying out their activities at night as we have identified that the peak hours for the mosquitoes are from 8pm to 10pm and from 2am till 3am.
"Those who still have to enter forests during these hours must take greater precaution such as wearing long-sleeved shirts.
"We have also given the same advice to army personnel who are the frontliners in the jungles," he said.