(CBS News) A strain of malaria that is not treatable by the most effective drug is now knocking on the Thai-Burma (also known as Myanmar) border and growing in its drug resistance.
According to Reuters, there is danger that the drug-resistant version may spread through India and Africa.
A new study published in The Lancet showed how the plasmodium falciparum form of the disease, which was observed in Cambodia as early as 2006, has moved 500 miles westwards through southeast Asia.
Researchers looked at over 3200 patients between 2001 and 2010 and recorded how long it took to clear malaria infections from their systems. Not only was the disease taking longer to treat, in western Cambodia 42 percent of Malaria cases had become resistant to artemisinin, widely considered the best drug to treat malaria, between 2007 and 2010.
Researchers predicted this meant similar rate would be found in Thai-Burma border in two to six years. They are proposing further studies to see if these strains of plasmodium falciparum are genetically related.
Malaria is a parasitic disease that includes symptoms of high fevers, shaking chills, flu-like symptoms and anemia, according to the National Institute of Health. First symptoms can occur between 10 days to 4 weeks after infection, and the symptoms can occur in cycles of 48 to 72 hours.
The Center for Disease Control reports that 1500 cases of malaria are reported each year in America, even though the disease has generally been eradicated from the U.S. On the global lebel, 3.3. billion people -- about half the world's population -- live in areas that are at risk of malaria transmission. The WHO said that malaria caused 655,000 deaths in 2010.
Almost all malaria-related deaths are caused by the drug-resistant plasmodium falciparum version. Scientists believe the spread is fueled by the incorrect use of artemisinin and fake versions of the drug, White told Reuters.