Molecular detection of drug resistant malaria in Southern Thailand

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Malaria Journal, 2019, 18 (1)
Issue Date:
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© 2019 The Author(s). Background: Drug resistance within the major malaria parasites Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum threatens malaria control and elimination in Southeast Asia. Plasmodium vivax first-line treatment drug is chloroquine together with primaquine, and the first-line treatment for P. falciparum malaria is artemisinin in combination with a partner drug. Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum parasites resistant to their respective first-line therapies are now found within Southeast Asia. The resistance perimeters may include high transmission regions of Southern Thailand which are underrepresented in surveillance efforts. Methods: This study investigated blood samples from malaria centres in Southern Thailand. Genetic loci associated with drug resistance were amplified and sequenced. Drug resistance associated genes Pvmdr1, Pvcrt-o, Pvdhfr, and Pvdhps were characterized for 145 cases of P. vivax malaria, as well as the artemisinin resistance-associated Pfkelch13 gene from 91 cases of P. falciparum malaria. Results: Plasmodium vivax samples from Southern Thai provinces showed numerous chloroquine and antifolate resistance-associated mutations, including SNP and Pvcrt-o K10-insertion combinations suggestive of chloroquine resistant P. vivax phenotypes. A high proportion of the C580Y coding mutation (conferring artemisinin resistance) was detected in P. falciparum samples originating from Ranong and Yala (where the mutation was previously unreported). Conclusions: The results demonstrate a risk of chloroquine and antifolate resistant P. vivax phenotypes in Southern Thailand, and artemisinin resistant P. falciparum observed as far south as the Thai-Malaysian border region. Ongoing surveillance of antimalarial drug resistance markers is called for in Southern Thailand to inform case management.
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