Super Malaria: What parents need to know about this global threat

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Scientists warn that the rapid rise in super malaria cases across Southeast Asia poses serious international dangers. Here's what parents need to know.

The rapid rise in the number of cases of 'super malaria' in South East Asia has worried scientists, who fear that it is becoming a serious threat. First emerging from Cambodia, the parasitic disease quickly spread to other parts of Asia, particularly to Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

Malaria is a parasitic disease transmitted through mosquito bites. Symptoms include high fever, chills, profuse sweating, headaches, vomiting and muscle aches. It is usually endemic to tropical countries. If left untreated, it could be fatal, especially to young children.

Super malaria is reportedly a more dangerous evolution of this disease. Here's what you need to know.

Super malaria is resistant to medication

Super malaria, unlike standard malaria, is resistant to anti-malaria tablets. Malaria is usually treated with a combination of artemisinin and piperaquine.

Researchers emphasized in the Lancet Journal of Infectious Diseases how worrying super malaria is becoming: "the evolution and subsequent transnational spread of this single fit multidrug-resistant malaria parasite lineage is of international concern."

The BBC reports that the treatment failure rate in Cambodia is 60% and 30% in Vietnam. These numbers are rapidly rising. "It's a race against the clock," Professor Arjen Dondorp, the head of the malaria unit at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit told BBC, "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."

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The best weapon against it is prevention

If you will be travelling to any of the aforementioned countries with your family anytime soon, be sure to take preventive measures:

1. Ask your doctor if you need to take prevention tablets

2. Pack strong insect repellant and apply it even before landing

3. Wear clothing that will cover up your arms and legs, especially at night.

4. Keep windows and doors closed at all times

5. As a safety measure, sleep inside a mosquito net

Most importantly, do not panic. Though alarming, preparedness is still the best way to prevent infectious diseases.

How can you protect your family from super malaria?

Though the number of malaria cases in the Philippines is low to moderate and no cases of super malaria have been reported in the Philippines, it's still best to be prepared.

The same goes for preventing malaria or super malaria at home. Apply mosquito repellant at night, reapplying as directed. Sleep in closed, airconditioned rooms, if possible. Or you can sleep with the fan on, while inside a mosquito net. Make sure to sleep with arms and legs covered.

If bitten by mosquitoes, do not scratch them. Use hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to ease itching. Consult your doctor immediately if you experience high fever, chills, profuse sweating, headaches, vomiting and muscle aches.

sources: BBC, Net Doctor UKThe Lancet Journal, World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control and Prevention

READ: What you need to know about Dengue

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