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further evidence of an alarming rise in resistance to artemisinin, currently the front-line drug in the treatment of malaria. He fears it could be the start of a global "nightmare" in which millions of people could lose their lives.
"We have to beat this resistance, win this race and eliminate the parasite before it’s too late. That's our challenge now," he said.
He said that artemisinin should take about 24 hours to deal with the parasite, but it was now taking three or four days in some cases. "We are going to see patients that don't respond to the treatment anymore,” he war
a new strain of the disease has sprung up on the Thailand-Myannmar border that has shown the ability to cling to its host for three days or more after the administration of treatment. Should this form of malaria spread, the results could be catastrophic:
“We know what will happen in Africa when resistance is bad because we’ve been there before in the 1990s with chloroquine (another anti-malarial drug) … millions of deaths,” [malaria researcher Dr Francois Nosten] warned.
“We must prevent artemisinin resistance reaching Africa, but we also need to control it for the people in Asia – for their future.”
Twenty years passed between the evolution of a strain of malaria resistant to the then-prevelant treatment of choloroquine in the same South Asian region before it migrated to Africa. While the disease does eventually fall to arteminsin treatment still, the inability of the patient to find relief from malaria’s high fevers is likely to raise the mortality rate among those infected with the new strain. In 2010, malaria caused the deaths of an estimated 660,000 people, with Africa having the highest infection rate of any continent
The malaria parasite -- carried by infected mosquitoes from person to person -- still kills an estimated 655,000 people a year.
That's almost 2,000 a day, mostly in Africa, with children being most at risk.
If the world loses its front-line drug, the impact could be devastating.
"The nightmare scenario is that the resistance will travel," Nosten said.
"We know what will happen in Africa when resistance is bad because we've been there before in the 1990s with chloroquine (another anti-malarial drug) … millions of deaths," he warned.
"We must prevent artemisinin resistance reaching Africa, but we also need to control it for the people in Asia - for their future."
"The Ebolapox could produce the form of smallpox called blackpox," Alibek says. Blackpox, sometimes known as hemorrhagic smallpox, is the most severe type of smallpox disease. In a blackpox infection, the skin does not develop blisters. Instead, the skin becomes dark all over. Blood vessels leak, resulting in severe internal hemorrhaging. Blackpox is invariably fatal. "As a weapon, the Ebolapox would give the hemorrhages and high mortality rate of Ebola virus, which would give you a blackpox, plus the very high contagiousness of smallpox," Alibek said.