An outbreak of artemisinin resistant falciparum malaria in Eastern Thailand.
Imwong M., Jindakhad T., Kunasol C., Sutawong K., Vejakama P., Dondorp AM.
Artemisinin resistant falciparum malaria is an increasing problem in Southeast Asia, but has not been associated with increased transmission of the disease, yet. During a recent outbreak in 2014 in Ubon Ratchatani, Eastern Thailand, parasites from 101 patients with falciparum malaria were genotyped for antimalarial drug resistance markers. Mutations in the Kelch13 marker for artemisinin resistance were present in 93% of samples, mainly C580Y from 2 major clusters as identified by microsatellite typing. Resistance markers for antifolates and chloroquine were also highly prevalent. Most strains (91%) carried single copy number PfMDR1, suggesting sustained sensitivity to mefloquine, the partner drug in the local first-line artemisinin combination therapy (ACT). The high prevalence of artemisinin resistance in this recent malaria outbreak suggests but does not prove a causative role in increased transmission. Careful monitoring of ACT efficacy and additional genetic epidemiological studies are warranted to guide the public health response to the outbreak.