Researchers Report P. Vivax Malaria Evolving To Become More Infectious

“A common type of malaria that used to be powerless to infect certain groups of Africans is becoming more potent, putting tens of millions of people at risk, scientists said Friday,” Agence France-Presse/GlobalPost reports (11/15). “Now roughly 95 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa — where the malaria burden is the highest — are thought to be resistant to the parasite in question, Plasmodium vivax,” but “[t]wo new genetic studies of [P. vivax] suggest that it may be evolving new ways to invade human blood cells,” Science Now writes (Vogel, 11/15). Researchers presented the findings from two studies on Friday at a conference of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the New York Times notes. “If vivax can establish itself in Africa, it can really undo a lot of the malaria progress we’ve made,” Peter Zimmerman, a malariologist from Case Western Reserve University who worked on one of the studies, said, according to the newspaper (McNeil, 11/18).