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For some time, malaria experts working along the Thailand-Cambodia border have been worried. They saw signs that malaria patients were responding less well to treatment, even with the newest and most effective drugs - namely artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs).
Now, sadly, it's more than an ugly rumor. The New York Times reported last week on recent studies confirming that malarial parasites circulating in this region have indeed become less responsive to artemisinin (which is often used alone here, rather than in combination, thereby driving resistance). Where it used to take only two days to kill enough malarial parasites with ACTs to cure a case of malaria, it can now take five days, allowing the parasite to go through several reproductive cycles in the body. That's a heart-breaking difference when you're the parent or carer of a feverish child. It's also a wide open door for mosquitoes to ingest blood filled with resistant parasites and spread it to their next victim.