Scientists all around Asia are sounding the alarm bell over the quick spread of a string of ‘super malaria’ which cannot be killed with normal anti-malaria drugs.
The mosquito was at first spotted in Cambodia and has since spread through South East Asia during the rain months. It has now reached parts of Laos, Thailand and since a few weeks the first cases are popping up in South Vietnam.
Professor Arjen Dondorp, head of the team at Oxford Tropical Medicine Research stationed in Bangkok, Thailand, said: "We think it is a serious threat."
"It is alarming that this strain is spreading so quickly through the whole region and we fear it can spread further [and eventually] jump to Africa."
The team published a letter in the world renowned medical magazine the Lancet (‘Spread of a single multidrug resistant malaria parasite’) in which they warned for the "recent sinister development that has seen resistance to the drug artemisinin emerge” and that this “presents one of the greatest threats to the control and elimination of malaria”.
Malaria is one of the most standard infectious diseases in the world to which more than half of the world’s population is at risk of infection. Certainly young children can easily get infected.
Although recent development have seen the number of deaths go down progressively every year, malaria still kills some half a million people per year.
This also isn’t the first time that one of the malaria mosquitos developed into a sort of ‘superbug’. Back in the 1950s and 1960s there was already an outbreak in Southeast Asia which then spread to India and Africa, where it killed many millions.
Professor Dondorp is well aware of this history. That’s why he added: "It's a race against the clock - we have to eliminate it before malaria becomes untreatable again and we see a lot of deaths. If I'm honest, I'm quite worried."