Some Asian countries have been affected by a lineage of multidrug resistant P. falciparum malaria and there is a risk it might spread further, which poses a real threat to the global fight against malaria, according to a study released Friday by the University of Oxford.
Blood spot samples from falciparum malaria patients have been found to contain artemisinin drug resistant P. falciparum lineage, said the study.
The study was led by researchers at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), the Mahidol University in Bangkok, and Oxford University.
The team warns that malaria parasites resistant to both artemisinin and its widely used partner drug piperaquine are now spreading quickly throughout Cambodia, with fitter multidrug resistant parasites spreading throughout western Cambodia, southern Laos and northeastern Thailand.
The parasites have caused high treatment failure rates for the main falciparum malaria medicines.
The authors of the study urge accelerated efforts in the Greater Mekong Sub-region and closer collaboration to monitor any further spread of such parasites in neighboring regions.
"The consequences of resistance spreading further into India and Africa could be grave if drug resistance is not tackled from a global public health emergency perspective," said Prof. Nicholas White at the University of Oxford, who is one of the contributors of the study.
The study has been published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.