India is facing a threat of parasites carrying Malaria that are artemisinin resistant, which is the frontline treatment to fight Malaria, spreading from Myanmar into India putting thousands at risk, warned researchers.
A research team confirmed that the resistant parasites were in the Homalin, Sagaing Region that is only 25 kilometers from the border of India.
If the drug resistance can spread from Asia into the African sub-continent or if it emerges in Africa by itself, millions of people could be at risk, added researchers.
The researchers examined if the parasite samples that were collected from 55 treatment centers for Malaria across Myanmar had mutations in specific regions of the kelch gene of the parasite, which is a known genetic marker of drug resistance to artemisinin.
The team received DNA sequences of more than 900 samples of malaria infections from across the country and in neighboring regions along the border in Bangladesh and Thailand from 2013 to 2014. Of the more than 900 samples, 371 or 39% carried a K13 mutation that was resistance conferring.
Using that information, researchers were able to develop maps to show the predicted extent of the drug resistance by the prevalence of the K13 mutations.
These maps suggest the overall K13 mutations prevalence was more than 10% in the larger areas of North and the East of Myanmar, including in areas near the India border.
Malaria parasites that were drug resistant back in the 1960s, originated in the area of Southeast Asia and from that point, were spread through Myanmar to India and to the rest of the globe where the disease killed millions, said researchers.
This new research, added researchers, shows that history is now repeating itself with the parasites that are resistant to the artemisinin drugs, the modern mainstay malaria treatment, now are throughout Myanmar.