Drug-resistant malaria threatens to spread from Burma, say researchers

The Guardian | February 20, 2015

Malaria with total resistance to the antimalarial drug artemisinin has taken hold in Burma and spread close to the border with India, threatening to render crucial medicines useless, scientists have warned. If the resistant parasite reached India it would pose a serious threat to the chances of global control and eradication of the killer mosquito-borne disease, said Charles Woodrow of the Mahidol-Oxford tropical medicine research unit. And if resistance spread from Asia to Africa, or emerges in Africa independently - as has been seen before with previously effective but now powerless antimalarials - "millions of lives will be at risk", they said in a report. 

"[Burma] is considered the front line in the battle against artemisinin resistance as it forms a gateway for resistance to spread to the rest of the world," said Woodrow, who led the Oxford study. In a study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, Woodrow's team collected 940 parasite samples at 55 malaria treatment centres across Burma and its border regions. more »

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