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Malaria News Feeds: Bay Area researchers track dangerous malaria strain in South East Asia - abc7news.com


When visiting countries with a serious risk of malaria, wherever possible, visitors should take enough medicine with them to cover the longest possible duration of the trip. It is particularly vital that travellers are aware that tablets intended for the prevention and treatment of malaria are often subject to counterfeiting wherever malaria can be a serious risk. Click on the link for more information on http://www.malariaprevention.co.uk/anti-malaria-tablets-doxycycline-lariam-malarone/

In his office at the University of California San Francisco's Global Health Group, Sir Richard Feachem, Ph.D. scans a map of malaria hot spots the way a general might survey a battlefield. For the last decade the war's been going his way. Malaria-related deaths worldwide have been cut in half since 2000. But now, he's afraid the enemy is adapting.

"There is a dark cloud on the horizon, and that is resistance by one of the main malaria parasites to the most commonly used drug, and that resistance is growing," Feachem said.

The drug he's referring to is Artemisinin. For decades, it's been produced from a plant called wormwood. And as ABC7 News reported late last year, the treatment became even more cost effective when a team led by Berkeley researcher Jay Keasling, Ph.D. created an artificial version, using genetically modified yeast.

But now Feachem and other malaria experts believe the benefits from that breakthrough, and Artemisinin based drugs in general, could be in jeopardy. The malaria parasites showing immunity were discovered in South East Asia, and the concern now is that the strain could be just a plane ride away from spreading to other hot spots like West Africa.

"We now believe that containing resistance simply isn't possible We have to eliminate it, to stamp it out completely," he argues.

To stamp out the drug resistant malaria, Feachem and others are proposing a kind of full scale assault. They are overwhelming the strain with mega-doses of Artemisinin, combined with other drugs as well. The strategy is called mass drug administration and it calls for entire populations to be treated in critical areas, including people who are not showing symptoms.

"Giving a completely curative dose of drugs to people whether or not we know they are affected," Feachem explains.

The goal is to block the parasite from being transmitted from humans to mosquitoes. In the meantime, the World Health Organization is coordinating regional response teams from centers in Cambodia and Myanmar. Feachem says new anti-malaria drugs that do not contain Artemisinin are already in the pipeline, and could be available within the next five years.

"And if we lose the battle against resistance, the response would be to use these new drugs and put Artemisinin aside and not use it anymore."

Written and produced by Tim Didion

(Copyright ©2015 KGO-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)


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