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An effective new Malaria Drug has one weird side-effect: Blue Urine

by Milicent Atieno
malaria mosquito

Malaria drug is one of those old ages diseases that despite all the advanced medical technology that have come about since the 19th, 20th, and now 21st century still remains a pain in the foot. Other age-old diseases like chicken pox, smallpox, polio, and measles among others have been effectively contained, or completely eradicated.

The most widely used and modern treatment for malaria, artemisinin drugs, are still effective in most parts of Africa. However, the malaria strain in Southeast Asia have developed resistance to these drugs, and now medical experts across Africa fear it is only a matter of time before the malaria strain on the continent also develop resistance.

Well, tests done in West Africa have established that a safe drug that has been used to treat urinary tract infections can also be used to treat malaria effectively. However, it has one very noticeable side effect; it makes your urine vividly blue.

This is something we need to solve because it could stop people from using it, lamented Teun Bousema, a microbiologist at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands and an author of the study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

To prevent mass loss of lives to this disease, scientists are working around the clock to come up with the next effective malaria treatment. As it is only a matter of time before the currently available drugs are rendered infective as the parasite develops resistance.

The recent cocktail of several drugs that promises effective treatment is the Methylene Blue, a dye used in labs to stain tissues for easy viewing under a microscope. Scientists says the Methylene Blue drug can be taken as an injection or via a table. It is usually used to treat urethral infection and hemoglobin disorders.

The dye also kills the malaria parasites in their gametocyte stage; the point at which a sick human can infect a mosquito turning it into a host for the parasite, which is then transferred to another person infecting them with malaria.

The team of researchers stationed at Ouélessébougou, Mali have established that the Methylene blue is effective in killing the parasite. Even more effective than the most widely used antimalarial drugs. Most other malaria drugs do not target the gametocytes that means a person who was previously ill from malaria and has begun recovering after taking drugs is still capable of spreading the disease for another week or two after their treatment.

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