Friday August 23, 2019

Strains of Malaria Resistant to Two Key Anti-Malarial Medicines Becoming More Dominant in Southeast Asia

Strains of malaria resistant to two key anti-malarial medicines are becoming more dominant in Vietnam

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Malaria, Medicine, Asia
FILE - Children living in the Thai-Myanmar border come to a malaria clinic to get tested in Sai Yoke district, Kanchanaburi province, Thailand, Oct. 26, 2012. VOA

Strains of malaria resistant to two key anti-malarial medicines are becoming more dominant in Vietnam, Laos and northern Thailand after spreading rapidly from Cambodia, scientists warned Monday.

Using genomic surveillance to track the spread of drug-resistant, the scientists found that the strain, known as KEL1/PLA1, has also evolved and picked up new genetic mutations which may make it yet more resistant to drugs.

“We discovered [it] had spread aggressively, replacing local parasites, and had become the dominant strain in Vietnam, Laos and northeastern Thailand,” said Roberto Amato, who worked with a team from Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute and Oxford University and Thailand’s Mahidol University.

It is caused by Plasmodium parasites which are carried by mosquitoes and spread through their blood-sucking bites.

Malaria, Medicine, Asia
FILE – Village malaria worker Phoun Sokha, 47, shows his malaria medicine kit at O’treng village on the outskirts of Pailin, Cambodia, Aug. 29, 2009. VOA

Almost 220 million people were infected with malaria in 2017, according to World Health Organization estimates, and the disease killed 400,000 of them. The vast majority of cases and deaths are among babies and children in sub-Saharan Africa.

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 Southeast Asia.

The first-line treatment for malaria in many parts of Asia in the last decade has been a combination of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine, also known as DHA-PPQ. Researchers found in previous work that a strain of malaria had evolved and spread across Cambodia between 2007 and 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.

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“Other drugs may be effective at the moment, but the situation is extremely fragile and this study highlights that urgent action is needed,” he said. (VOA)

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Almost 5 Million Pigs in Asia Dies Because of Spread of African Swine Fever Over the Past Year

The contagious viral disease that affects domestic and wild pigs was first detected in Asia one year ago this month

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Pigs, Swine Fever, Asia
ASF has wiped out over 10 per cent of the pig population in China, Vietnam and Mongolia, and is also present in Cambodia, North Korea and Laos, FAO said, citing its latest figures. Pixabay

Almost 5 million pigs in Asia have now died or been culled because of the spread of African swine fever over the past year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Friday, warning Asian nations to keep strict control measures in place.

ASF has wiped out over 10 per cent of the pig population in China, Vietnam and Mongolia, and is also present in Cambodia, North Korea and Laos, FAO said, citing its latest figures.

The contagious viral disease that affects domestic and wild pigs was first detected in Asia one year ago this month. While not dangerous to humans, the disease causes up to 100 per cent fatality in pigs, leading to severe economic losses to the pig sector, FAO said.

With FAO support, other countries in the region are ramping up preparedness efforts to prevent further spreading of the disease, the UN agency said.

Pigs, Swine Fever, Asia
Almost 5 million pigs in Asia have now died or been culled because of the spread of African swine fever over the past year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Friday, warning Asian nations to keep strict control measures in place. Pixabay

“As there is no commercially available vaccine, we need to place greater emphasis on other disease counter efforts. Countries must be vigilant at borders – land, sea or air – in preventing the disease’s entrance and spread through the introduction of infected pigs or contaminated pork products. Outbreaks need to be reported immediately,” said FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth.

“We are urging at-risk countries to implement effective biosecurity measures to prevent infected live pigs or contaminated pork products from crossing their borders,” he added.

On top of the Asian outbreak, Europe is currently experiencing a slowly-spreading epidemic among some of its wild pig population and some countries have introduced tight restrictions to limit the movement of wild pigs, FAO reported.

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ASF was first detected in Africa in the 1920s. (IANS)