Low level genotypic chloroquine resistance near Malawi’s northern border with Tanzania
We conducted a prevalence study of mutations in Plasmodium falciparum that are associated with antimalarial drug resistance at a rural site in Karonga near Malawi’s northern border with Tanzania. We found a higher prevalence of the key chloroquine resistance‐conferring mutation in the pfcrt gene (K76T) at this site in comparison with the prevalence in Blantyre, a city in the south of Malawi, far from an international border (9%vs. 0%; P < 0.0005). In contrast we found a lower prevalence of the quintuple dhfr/dhps mutation, which is highly predictive of SP treatment failure, at the Karonga site compared to Blantyre (76%vs. 88%; P < 0.005). The prevalence of the K76T pfcrt mutation at two Tanzanian sites close to the border with Malawi was recently reported to be over 50%. Our findings suggest a considerable ‘leakage’ of parasite antimalarial drug resistance across the border between two countries with different national malaria control policies and with different levels of resistance. Neighbouring countries should consider implementing common regional rather than national malaria treatment policies to prevent the spread of antimalarial drug resistance alleles across their borders.
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