08/06/2009, 00.00
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Cambodia, malaria emergency: in six months 103 deaths and 27 thousand infections

Deaths increase by 58% since same period in 2008. Spread of parasite caused by the early start to rainy season and a delay in the distribution of mosquito nets. A recent study shows the emergence of a drug-resistant strain of the disease.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Cambodia has declared a malaria emergency. The National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control has reported over 100 deaths and more than 27 thousand cases of infection in the first six months of the year. The rapid spread of the parasite has been provoked by the advance start of the rainy season and a delay in the distribution of bed nets.

Cambodian officials speak of a 58% increase in deaths since the same period last year. Doung Socheat, director of the Center, reports that between January and June, 103 people have died while the cases of malaria are now 27,105. In the first six months of 2008 there were 65 deaths and 25,033 infections. He adds that around 400 thousand bed-nets have been made available, but only 200 thousand delivered to households.

The publication of official data in Cambodia comes a few days after the publication of a study that shows certain varieties of malaria have become much more resistant to medical treatment. The research appeared in the scientific New England Journal of Medicine, and shows that some parasites are resistant to artemisin, the most common drug for the treatment of malaria. "It is not 100% resistant," says Arjen M. Dondorp, Thai researcher, “but it is still a very worrying because it is the first major step towards full strength. "

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