No new mutations of malaria found since gene sequence testing began – Dr Anthony

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Malaria has plagued those who live and work in Guyana’s hinterland regions for years with the Health Ministry putting in place various systems to tackle the disease.

The latest attempt is by use of a gene sequencing machine which has shown there are no traces of a mutation of the parasite found in the blood of infected patients, Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony has confirmed.

The gene sequence testing machine arrived in January as part of the country’s fight against the disease. The procurement of the new technology facilitates the sequencing of the genomes of malaria parasites.

On Thursday, the Health Minister said, “We have been using this particular study to figure out whether or not mutations are here among the parasites in Guyana… we haven’t found any but  that’s what we are trying to do with the current genetic sequencing that’s here.”

Mutations of the parasite would mean the current treatment for infected persons would have to change.

Dr. Anthony further noted that the ministry is monitoring resistance to the treatment being developed. Thus far there is none and the medication is working for infected persons.

“That’s a positive thing. It means that the treatment schedule that we’re using is going to be effective in a patient,” he clarified.

In November, 2021, malaria was detected among 198 Venezuelan migrants who settled in Anabisi, Port Kaituma, in the North West District, Region One (Barima-Waini).

Several illnesses were detected, including impetigo (a bacterial infection on the skin), upper respiratory infection, conjunctivitis (commonly called ‘red eye’) and mild diarrheal diseases.

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony presenting an incesticide-treated net to a resident of Region Six (East Berbice- Corentyne) during a recent visit of the region (Photo: Ministry of Health)

Dr Anthony has said the project will help Guyana to completely eliminate malaria parasites and vectors. The spread of the disease across the country and the resistance of antimalarial drugs are being monitored to possibly develop new technologies and medicines to treat those infected.

It has been noted that resistance to the drug that is used to treat the disease has resulted in more persons being hospitalised, diagnosed with anemia, having low birth weight, and even death.

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