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Malaria parasites resistant to key drugs have spread rapidly in South East Asia to reach Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
The parasites were first detected in Cambodia in 2008, and in less than ten years have spread to neighbouring countries.
Experts - Prospect - Parasites - Africa - Killer
Experts fear the 'terrifying prospect' of the parasites potentially reaching Africa, where the killer mosquito-borne disease is most fatal.
Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite, passed to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
KEL1/PLA1 - Proven - Malaria - Treatments - Type
KEL1/PLA1 - proven to be resistant to first-line malaria treatments - is just one type of the parasite.
Experts examined blood samples collected from malaria patients in Cambodia, Laos, north-eastern Thailand and Vietnam, between 2007 and 2018.
KEL1/PLA1 - Cambodia - Years
They found before 2009, KEL1/PLA1 was only found in western Cambodia, but is likely to have been there for several years.
It is believed the parasites started moving in 2015, and by 2016/17, its prevalence had risen to more than 50 per cent in all the countries except Laos.
Parasites - Regions - Thailand - Vietnam - Parasites
Inspecting the parasites DNA showed that in some regions of Thailand and Vietnam, the parasites made up 80 per cent of malaria cases.
The Wellcome Sanger Institute research was led by Dr William Hamilton, who said: 'These findings show an evolutionary process in action.'
'Our - Data - KEL1/PLA1 - Cambodia
He added: 'Our data clearly show that KEL1/PLA1 has continued spreading out from western Cambodia.
'[It] is now highly prevalent in multiple regions of Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, where it has frequently replaced previous indigenous populations of parasites.'
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