Malaria superbug spreads from Cambodia to southern Vietnam: report

By Staff reporters   September 22, 2017 | 12:47 am PT
Malaria superbug spreads from Cambodia to southern Vietnam: report
Mosquitoes used for malaria study. Photo by Reuters/Ricardo Rojas
The evolution and transnational spread of the parasite lineage ‘is of international concern.’

A highly drug-resistant malaria superbug has spread from Cambodia to the southern part of Vietnam, testing the limits of the country's treatment capabilities, scientists said.

The single multidrug resistant malaria parasite lineage (PfPailin) has spread to the south of Vietnam where it is responsible for “alarming rates” of first-line treatment failure, the scientists said in a letter for the October 2017 edition of the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

The dominant PfPailin was first identified in western Cambodia in 2008, and has also spread to northeastern Thailand and southern Laos, it said.

“The evolution and subsequent transnational spread of this single fit multidrug-resistant malaria parasite lineage is of international concern,” it said.

That, together with the subsequent loss of partner antimalarial drugs in the Greater Mekong subregion, presents one of the greatest threats to the control and elimination of malaria, it said.

Malaria is a deadly disease transmitted by mosquitoes. The disease infected 214 million people and killed 438,000 in 2015, with 90 percent of the dead patients in Africa and 70 percent of them children under five years old, according to the World Health Organization.

Vietnam reported around 4,000 cases of malaria last year, a 55 percent drop from the previous year. The country has set a target of eliminating malaria by 2030.

Earlier this year, medical experts detected the drug-resistant malaria parasite in Binh Phuoc Province in the south and Dak Nong, Gia Lai, Khanh Hoa and Quang Nam provinces in the central region.

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