WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Study finds artemisinin-resistant malaria spreading in Southeast Asia

A recent study revealed that strains of drug-resistant malaria are spreading to critical border regions of Southeast Asia and threatening global malaria control and elimination programs.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirms that artemisinin-resistant malaria is now widespread in Southeast Asia, ScienceDaily reports.

The study analyzed blood samples from more than 1,200 malaria patients in Asia and Africa. The results showed that Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly malaria-causing parasite, is firmly established across Southeast Asia, with emerging signs of resistance in central Myanmar, southern Laos and northeastern Cambodia, according to ScienceDaily.

The study suggested that extending the course of antimalarial treatments in areas with firmly established artemisinin resistance could offer a temporary solution.

"It may still be possible to prevent the spread of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites across Asia and then to Africa by eliminating them, but that window of opportunity is closing fast," Professor Nicholas White, the senior author of the study, said, ScienceDaily reports. "Conventional malaria control approaches won't be enough. We will need to take more radical action and make this a global public health priority, without delay,"

Some strains of malaria developed resistance to frontline treatments in the past and eventually spread to Africa. The study recorded no signs of artemisinin resistance in Africa.