Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Threat of Drug Resistant Malaria

Recent tests indicate that the most common malaria strains are becoming resistant to combination treatments in vulnerable areas. "Selected trials" showed "high failure rates for some combinations" of medicines. Anti-malarial treatments must be questioned, particularly in susceptible regions (Wiley).

The most common type of malaria parasite causes uncomplicated malaria, which is a mild form of the disease. However, if this strain remains untreated, it can develop into a life-threatening condition. "Resistance" of this strain "to the older antimalarials has led the WHO to recommend treatments combining" a fast-acting drug with a "longer-lasting drug to combat resistance."

Malaria can be a difficult disease to cure and is most often treated with a combination of medicines. During the recent tests, "there were examples of treatment failure rates above 10% for all evaluated combinations." According to the WHO, this exceeds the "maximum allowable failure rate for a first line antimalarial" treatment.

A recently introduced drug, dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine, performed well when compared to the standard treatment of artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs). This new treatment "offers another potential first-line therapy for the disease".

"Patterns of resistance change from place to place and over time," so continued testing of infected individuals and monitoring of progress is necessary to ensure successful treatment. These research and medical programs are costly, and severely underfunded. If you would like to contribute money to malaria research, please visit the following sites.

Anti-malaria agencies:

(Infectious bite is not currently accepting donations. Please see the appropriate agencies for information on donations)

Wiley-Blackwell. "Continued Vigilance Against Drug-resistance Malaria Is Needed." ScienceDaily 7 July 2009. 9 July 2009 <­ /releases/2009/07/090707201209.htm >.

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