‘Super’ malaria in Asia

This item appears on page 21 of the November 2017 issue.

A strain of drug-resistant malaria is spreading across Southeast Asia. Originally discovered in Cambodia, the “super” malaria is now present in Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. 

Malaria is caused by a single-celled organism that is transmitted by mosquitoes. It infects roughly 212 million people each year, killing about 400,000 of them. It is usually treated with a combination of two drugs: artemisinin and piperaquine. The super-malaria strain has proven resistant to both and now accounts for about 33% of cases in Southeast Asia and more than 60% in Cambodia alone.