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Dhaka Tribune

1/3 Bangladeshis under threat of 'new malaria variant': Research

Update : 27 Apr 2013, 06:40 AM

A recent research report says that one-third of Bangladeshi population is at risk of a newly-discovered lethal malaria variant – the fifth of its kind which is yet to be identified here.

So far, four different types of malaria have been discussed in the textbooks of medicine and biology. However, the new variant, the fifth malarial pathogen, has recently been identified in many parts of the world. Plasmoduim knowlesi is the parasite behind this new malaria variant.

It is yet to be identified in Bangladesh due mainly to the difficulties in identifying it by microscopy, and in distinguishing it from P malariae, another type of parasite causing a known type of malaria.

The possibility of the brand new variant of Malaria was presented in a recent conference titled “2013 Research Advances in Malaria” organised and hosted by Johns Hopkins University, said a press statement.

The report warns that Bangladesh is at potential risk of the fifth variant due to its geographic position. Firstly, the main vector for P knowlesi is mosquito Anopheles leucosphyrus, which is available in Myanmar, parts of India, and a significant part of Bangladesh.

Secondly, several Macaque species including the usual hosts of this mosquito have their habitats in Bangladesh. “Macaca fascicularis, one of the critically endangered Macaque species, is known to be naturally available in extreme south-eastern areas of the country,” the paper says.

Addition of the new information in the textbooks and curricula of medicine, biology, and relevant fields would help learners keep updated, the authors expect.

The research paper was conducted by Nazrul Islam, physician and a PhD student of Canada’s University of British Columbia; Stefanos Bonovas, a physician and researcher at Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention; and Georgios Nikolopoulos, a researcher at National Development and Research Institutes Inc, USA. The lead author Nazrul presented the research in the conference.

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