Background: Malaria parasites that carry the DHFR-mutation I164L are not only highly resistant to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine but also to the new antimalarial drug chlorproguanil-dapsone. The spread of this mutation in Africa would result in a public health disaster since there is a lack of effective alternatives that are both affordable and safe. Up to now, this mutation has only been described in Asian and Latin-American countries. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of this mutation in African isolates of Plasmodium falciparum that have been imported into Europe through travellers.
Methods: TropNetEurop is a network for the surveillance of travel-associated diseases and seems to cover approximately 12% of all malaria cases imported into Europe. Within this network we screened 277 imported African isolates of P. falciparum with the help of PCR- and enzyme-digestion-methods for the antifolate-resistant mutation I164L.
Results: The I164L mutation was not detected in any of the isolates tested.
Discussion: Continuous molecular surveillance of mutations in P. falciparum, as it is practised within TropNetEurop, is an essential tool for the understanding and early detection of the spread of antimalarial drug resistance in Africa.