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article imageResistant malaria moves closer to India border

By Tim Sandle     Feb 26, 2015 in Health
Parasites resistant to the antimalarial drug artemisinin are spreading through mosquitoes. A new study shows that mosquitoes carrying these parasites are in Myanmar and are heading to the India border.
So close are the mosquitoes that they are now within 25 kilometers of the Indian border. The key point is that the parasites in the blood of the mosquitoes are resistant to the drug artemisinin. This medication is the frontline treatment against malaria infection.
If the highly resistant form of malaria spreads into India then the havoc it could cause would be considerable and life-threatening. Drug-resistant varieties of the disease have been rising for several years, although it is only recently that these variants of the disease have become widespread.
In reaching their conclusions about the spread of this form of malaria, scientists examined parasite samples, drawn from infected people, collected at 55 malaria treatment centres across Myanmar. The main focus was to see if a gene called kelch gene (K13) was present. This acts as a biological marker for artemisinin drug resistance. This was based on genetic analysis, where DNA was screened.
This enabled the researchers to develop maps and track the spread of this particular form of malaria. This real-time information has proved useful and it has allowed early warnings to be issued (although whether health authorities in the most vulnerable regions in India can cope is a different matter.)
The findings have been published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The research is titled “Spread of artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Myanmar: a cross-sectional survey of the K13 molecular marker.”
In related news, a science group has proposed that introducing genetic engineering to eliminate the population of female mosquitoes is key to fighting malaria.
More about Malaria, artemisinin, Mosquitoes
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