WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. experts are raising the alarm over the spread of drug-resistant malaria in several Southeast Asian countries, endangering major global gains in fighting the mosquito-borne disease that kills more than 600,000 people annually.
While the communicable disease wreaks its heaviest toll in Africa, it's in nations along the Mekong River where the most serious threat to treating it has emerged.
Resistance to therapies using the front-line drug artemisinin emerged on the Thai-Cambodia border in 2003, and has since been confirmed in Vietnam and Myanmar too. It has also been detected in southwest China and suspected as far away as Guyana and Suriname.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank says that could be a health catastrophe in the making, as no alternative anti-malarial drug is on the horizon.