News / Health

New Malaria Strain Difficult to Treat

TEXT SIZE - +
Vidushi Sinha

Declining malaria deaths in Africa and progress toward an effective malaria vaccine are raising hopes the disease will soon be eradicated worldwide. But researchers at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this week unveiled a new global malaria map that raises new concerns about the disease.  

Just when health experts thought they were on the winning side in the battle against malaria, a disease that kills almost 800,000 people around the world each year, a once-minor strain of the malaria parasite has now emerged as a major public health threat.

And it is a far more complicated and deadly strain than the one being targeted by vaccine.

Malaria caused by Plasmodium vivax has long been considered more benign than the disease caused by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, the kind prevalent across Africa. But the new global data show that's not true, says Peter Gething of Oxford University, who spoke to us via Skype.

“Plasmodium vivax is very, very important, a big global public health problem. It kills people at a much much higher rates than was previously thought and there [are] actually more people at risk of vivax globally than there are of [plasmodium] p. falciparum," he said.

Gething is the lead researcher on the Malaria Atlas Project, a new effort to monitor changes in the worldwide prevalence of malaria.

Gething says about 2.8 billion people are at risk from this new variety of malaria, and he adds that the tools for fighting the disease range from ineffectual to non-existent.

“[An] Important fact about vivax is, it is not a large public health problem in Africa, where falciparum is predominant. Vivax is an important problem in those parts of the world where the area is very populous, so it's a very significant problem, for example, in India, Indonesia, and throughout much of central and south East Asia," he said.

Experts in the field also note that control measures such as pesticide-coated bed nets are not as effective against the vivax parasites because the mosquitoes that carry them are more likely to bite their victims outside the house than inside.

"It [Plasmodium Vivax] can hibernate in people's livers and lay there dormant for months or even years. And when it’s in the liver that particular stage of parasite is not responsive to the normal bloodstream drugs that we use against falciparum. So, you can treat the person and they will recover, but you don’t cure the underlying infection," he said.

The best known drug against vivax-induced malaria is primaquine, but it requires a 14-day regimen that's hard to follow in many malaria-prone regions of the world. The drug also causes serious side effects in people with an inherited blood disorder. That is fairly common in regions where vivax is endemic.  Research is underway on some promising new drugs to fight the vivax malaria parasite.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid