Alarm sounded over malaria strain
MULTIDRUG-resistant forms of malaria-causing parasites are spreading across southeast Asia leading to “alarmingly high” treatment failure rates of widely used frontline medication, researchers warned Tuesday.
In twin studies published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, they revealed that in parts of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia up to 80 percent of the most common malaria parasite were now resistant to the two most common antimalarial drugs.
The Plasmodium falciparum parasites have also acquired resistance linked to the failure of treatment in half of cases to one of the newest and most potent frontline drug combinations, they said.
“These worrying findings indicate that the problem of multidrug resistance in P falciparum has substantially worsened in southeast Asia since 2015,” said Olivo Miotto from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and University of Oxford, who co-led the study.
“This highly successful resistant parasite strain is capable of invading new territories and acquiring new genetic properties.”
He warned of the “terrifying prospect” of the parasite spreading to Africa, where most malaria cases occur.