Scientists see global threat as 'super malaria' spreads in South-East Asia

'We are losing a dangerous race': 'Super malaria' spreading rapidly in Asia

'We are losing a dangerous race': 'Super malaria' spreading rapidly in Asia

A "super malaria" parasite is spreading through South-east Asia at an alarming rate and Singapore is unlikely to keep it off its shores. The fast spread of the mutated strain of the unsafe disease is an alarming global threat, scientists have warned.

This risky form of the parasite that is transmitted by mosquitoes can not be killed with the main drugs now used to treat the infectious disease, reported the BBC.

The dominant PfPailin was first identified in western Cambodia in 2008, and has also spread to northeastern Thailand and southern Laos, it said.

"It spread like a wildfire to Vietnam", professor Arjen Dondorp, head of malaria department at the tropical medicine research unit at Mahidol University in Bangkok, told AFP.

Michael Chew from Wellcome's Infection and Immunobiology team said: "The spread of this malaria "superbug" strain, resistant to the most effective drug we have, is alarming and has major implications for public health globally". Drug resistance is a growing problem for malaria treatment, with fears that the disease could one day no longer be treatable with the current crop of pharmaceuticals. The treatment was failing around a third of the time in Vietnam while in some regions of Cambodia the failure rate was closer to 60 per cent, Dondorp said.

The standard frontline choice for treating malaria is artemisinin in combination with another drug.

Resistance to the drugs would be catastrophic in Africa, where 92 per cent of all malaria cases happen, researchers warn.

According to WHO, over 212 million people the world over are infected with malaria each year, and almost 430,000 people died from the disease in 2015. The World Health Organisation claims that 1.5 million people are infected with malaria in southeast Asia annually, resulting in over 600 deaths.

That is because Singapore, declared malaria-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1982, has very few Anopheles mosquitoes - the carriers of malaria.

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