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Treatment resistant malaria reported in the UK in traveller returning from Uganda

22 Feb 2023

The UK Health Security Agency has reported a case of drug resistant malaria (malaria which is not responding to treatment), in a UK traveller who returned from Uganda in September 2022.

Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is the name of the recommended malaria treatment in the UK against the most serious type of malaria, often called 'falciparum' malaria'. Previous cases of drug resistance against ACT have been reported in South East Asia and Africa, but this is the first time drug resistance has been detected against this important malaria treatment drug in the UK.

UK malaria laboratories are monitoring closely for further evidence of malaria treatment failure and have issued advice for health professionals if they suspect further cases.

Drug resistance occurs when organisms which cause a disease or condition develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill or inactive them. This threatens our ability to treat common infectious diseases, and is an important reminder on why we need to protect ourselves against malaria whenever travelling abroad to a malaria-risk region.

Advice for travellers

Before travelling abroad, find out if there is a risk of malaria in the country you intend to visit on the malaria section on each country page:

  • If malaria is present, there will also be a map showing the malaria-affected areas in that country.
  • Be aware that the risk of malaria can vary within different parts of the same country, between neighbouring countries, and at different times of year.

Everyone who visits a country where malaria is present is at risk of catching malaria. Some groups of people are at increased risk of catching malaria because of the type of travel they are undertaking. There are also groups of people who are at an increased risk of developing severe malaria if they catch the infection.

In addition make sure you are aware of:

If you develop a high temperature (fever) +/- any other symptoms whilst abroad, or after returning home from a malaria-risk country you should always seek urgent medical assessment, even if it is up to one month after returning home to the UK.  Always make sure you tell the health care professional that you have recently travelled to a malaria-affected country.