"Malaria that is resistant to the best available drug is more widespread in Southeast Asia than previously reported, new research shows. The worrisome finding poses a risk that travelers could carry this strain of the malaria parasite to other parts of the globe and unwittingly spread it, scientists reported Nov. 19 at a meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
The frontline drug in question is called artemisinin, the most potent medication currently in use against malaria. Signs of malarial resistance to artemisinin have surfaced over the past several years in Cambodia (SN: 11/22/08, p. 9). The new findings confirm that resistant malaria has now cropped up beyond a spot on the border of Thailand and Cambodia where it was initially detected. Now it has appeared in Vietnam and in two spots along the Burma border with Thailand and China.
“Things are changing. There’s no doubt the signs are concerning,” said Robert Newman, director of the Global Malaria Programme at the World Health Organization in Geneva. But he added that these signals are early and need further verification."