While bacteria have been busy building resistance to common drugs used to fight them, another disease has also become less susceptible to treatment. Scientists are warning of the rise of so-called super malaria, which was first identified in Cambodia in 2007 and has since spread to Laos, Thailand and southern Vietnam. Two of the best treatment options, artemisinin, and piperaquine, are no longer useful for some patients.
Reporting in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers have described how artemisinin resistance spreads in Plasmodium falciparum (the parasite that causes malaria) and has cautioned that a loss of these drugs could be a huge blow to the effort to eradicate malaria.
Only recently, a dramatic decrease in malaria cases was reported by the World Health Organization. Between 2010 and 2015, there was a 21 percent reduction in cases and a 28 percent decrease in mortality. However, the disease is still responsible for the deaths of around 420,000 people every year, and 91 countries are still plagued by malaria.