Study Links Gut Bacteria to Higher Risk of Severe Malaria

Researchers have highlighted that various strains of gut bacteria are associated with an elevated likelihood of developing severe malaria in both humans and mice. As detailed in Nature Communications, the study highlighted a notable connection between specific strains of Bacteroides in mice and an increased susceptibility to severe malaria.

This correlation was observed in children suffering from severe malaria, emphasizing the influence of Bacteroides species within the gut microbiome in enhancing susceptibility to severe malaria. Researchers from Indiana University in the US suggested that these interactions among gut bacteria could pave the way for innovative approaches aimed at preventing severe malaria and the associated fatalities.

Malaria, a life-threatening disease caused by parasites transmitted through mosquito bites, remains a significant global health challenge. According to the World Health Organization’s 2021 World Malaria Report, an estimated 619,000 people succumbed to malaria that year, with a staggering 76 per cent of those deaths occurring in children under the age of five. Nathan Schmidt, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University’s School of Medicine, acknowledged the advancements in malaria treatment and prevention. These efforts have led to the development of new vaccines, antimalarial drugs, insecticides to manage mosquito populations, and enhanced healthcare systems.

However, Schmidt emphasized the urgent need for fresh approaches, citing a stagnation in reducing malaria-related fatalities over the past five years. He stressed the lack of methodologies targeting the gut microbiota and expressed optimism in exploring this novel avenue to mitigate the impact of severe malaria.

Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) reported a decrease in malaria and dengue cases for October compared to September. According to the statement, Mumbai saw 944 cases of malaria and 979 cases of dengue in October, down from 1,313 malaria cases and 1,360 dengue cases in September. Traditionally, malaria cases surge between July and October during the monsoon, while dengue cases typically increase from August to November.

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