Vinita Surukan had an idea that mosquitoes are trouble. They have attacked her in swarms and have bitten her through her clothes as she worked in order to collect the rubber tree sap in her village in Sabah, Malaysia’s northern state. The 30-year old woman has described the situation as almost unbearable. However, she needed a job,

There are only handful of alternatives in the village that is surrounded by fragments of the larger swaths and forest reserves of farms, rubber tree estates, and oil palm plantations. Thus, she endured a week of high fever and vomiting and then she was forced to stop.

On 23rd July, Surukan had been trying to sleep off the fever when the clinic that she visited called her with the results. Her blood had been teeming with malaria parasites. Her family took her to the town hospital immediately where she secured intravenous anti-malarial drugs prior to being transferred to the city hospital that has been equipped for the treatment of severe malaria cases.  The drugs have cleared the parasites and the lucky women were smiling by morning.

Malaria has terrorized the human species for several millennia, it fevers carved into the earliest writing on the ancient Sumerian clay tablets found in Mesopotamia. In the year 2016, 4 species of human malaria parasites that are spread by mosquito from one person to another have infected over 210 million people around the world as it killed almost 450,000. The deadliest species Plasmodium falciparum caused most of the infections.

However, malaria that affected Surukan has been different.  Hers was not a human malaria parasite. As a matter of fact, she had P. knowlesi that infects many monkey species. The same parasite had infected two other people in Surukan’s village, the man who hunts the forest along with the teenager. Surukan believes that the parasites came from monkeys which live in the forest that borders the rubber tree estate that she had worked in. Some villagers had quit working there after they heard about Surukan’s illness.Vinita Surukan


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