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Malaria shows signs of resisting best drug used to fight it

The frontline malaria medicine artemisinin shows gaps in effectiveness in Southeast Asia

WASHINGTON — 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 November 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 the borders of Myanmar (formerly called Burma) with Thailand and China.

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