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Zoonotic knowlesi malaria has replaced human malaria as the most prevalent malaria disease in Malaysia. The persistence of knowlesi malaria in high-risk transmission areas or hotspots can be discouraging to existing malaria elimination efforts. In this study, retrospective data of laboratory-confirmed knowlesi malaria cases were obtained from the Sarawak Health Department to investigate the spatiotemporal patterns and clustering of knowlesi malaria in the state of Sarawak from 2008 to 2017. Purely spatial, purely temporal, and spatiotemporal analyses were performed using SaTScan software to define clustering of knowlesi malaria incidence. Purely spatial and spatiotemporal analyses indicated most likely clusters of knowlesi malaria in the northern region of Sarawak, along the Sarawak–Kalimantan border, and the inner central region of Sarawak between 2008 and 2017. Temporal cluster was detected between September 2016 and December 2017. This study provides evidence of the existence of statistically significant Plasmodium knowlesi malaria clusters in Sarawak, Malaysia. The analysis approach applied in this study showed potential in establishing surveillance and risk management system for knowlesi malaria control as Malaysia approaches human malaria elimination.
Financial support: Wei Kit Phang was supported by graduate research assistantship funded by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia Long Term Research Grant Scheme (LR002D-2018).
Authors’ addresses: Choo Huck Ooi, Vector Borne Disease Section, Sarawak Health Department, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Kuching, Malaysia, E-mail: email@example.com. Wei Kit Phang, Jonathan Wee Kent Liew, and Yee Ling Lau, Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.