Worries over drug-resistant Malaria strains spreading from Cambodia

Drug-resistant forms of malaria-causing parasites are spreading across south east Asia leading to “alarmingly high” treatment failure rates of frontline medication.

Scientists say that a strain of Malaria, known as KEL1/PLA1, has evolved and picked up new genetic mutations which may make it more resistant to drugs. They are warning that strains of malaria, resistant to two key anti-malarial medicines, are becoming more dominant in Vietnam, Laos and northeastern Thailand after spreading quickly out of Cambodia.

The scientific group worked with Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute, Oxford University and Thailand’s Mahidol University.

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites and then carried by mosquitoes. According to the World Health Organisation around 220 million people have been infected with malaria as of 2017 and the disease killed 400,000 of them.

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Malaria can be successfully treated with medicines if it’s caught early enough, but resistance to anti-malarial drugs is growing in many parts of the world, especially in South East Asia.

Researchers found that a strain of malaria had evolved and spread across Cambodia from 2007-2013. This latest research, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, found it has crossed borders and tightened its grip.

“The speed at which these resistant malaria parasites have spread in Southeast Asia is very worrying,” said Olivo Miotto, who co-led the work.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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