Resistance to malaria drugs hits Africa

Aug. 19, 2004 at 5:27 PM
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LONDON, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- U.K. scientists said an imported resistance to two malaria drugs in Africa has rendered them ineffective, suggesting a need for traveler screening tests.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and other institutions found mutations causing drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum -- the parasite causing the most deadly form of malaria -- originated in Southeast Asia and likely spread across Africa from outside visitors.

These mutations leave the two affordable malaria drugs chloroquine and sulfadoxine pyrimethamine -- which have been used in Africa for 40 years -- ineffective.

Dr. Cally Roper, the lead author of the study appearing in Thursday's issue of Science, said careful thought should be given to preventing the importation of these resistant parasites, including perhaps screening and treating travelers from Asia, South America and Africa as well as introducing combination therapies.

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