Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Scientists are sounding the alarm warning of a "super malaria" that is resistant to anti-malaria drugs and is spreading rapidly in Southeast Asia.
Researchers first identified the anti-malaria drug resistant strain in 2007 in Cambodia, and found it has since spread through Thailand, Laos and southern Vietnam.
The drugs, arteminsinin and piperaquine, had represented the best treatment for the mosquito-borne illness, however, scientists are now seeing resistance to these drugs in patients in certain areas of the world.
In the October edition of The Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers outline the spread of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum, saying that the resulting loss of partner anti-malaria drugs in the Greater Mekong region presents "one of the greatest threats to the control and elimination of malaria."
The World Health Organization reports there has been recent, dramatic progress with the significant reduction of the number of people being diagnosed with malaria, with a 21 percent decrease in incidence from 2010 to 2015 and a 29 percent drop in mortality during that time.
Even so, the disease still kills more than 420,000 people each year worldwide and, in 2015, 91 countries and regions had ongoing malaria transmission.