Current situation: According to the National Center for Control and Prevention of Diseases (KEELPNO) in Greece by mid-August 2016 were registered 65 cases of infection with malaria, compared to 85 cases reported during 2015. The largest number (61) of registered cases of malaria by public health authorities classified as imported , which means that the disease has obtained outside of Greece, and 4 cases were classified as indigenous or locally acquired, after input the disease in the country. Last 2 registered, locally acquired cases in the region of Thessaloniki, and the previous 2 of 2016, were reported in the region of Western Greece. 61 imported cases of malaria, 11 cases involved travelers returning from countries where there is malaria (endemic countries), and 50 cases of the disease among migrants who arrived in Greece migrant wave, mainly people from the Indian subcontinent or from one of the African countries affected by malaria.
Short history: After almost 4 decades after the disease was declared eradicated (uprooted) in Greece, and registering only imported cases, the first cases of locally acquired infection with malaria in Greece was recorded in 2009, after being registered sporadic cases each year . The largest number of locally acquired cases of malaria in Greece during this period were reported in 2011 – 42 cases, in 5 different regions of the country. Last year were registered a total of 85 cases of malaria in Greece, of which 79 were classified as imported, and 6 as locally acquired with epidemiological link with imported cases.
Blood Donation: When in certain regions is confirmed local transmission of malaria, it is recommended that public health authorities to ban / suspend some time blood donation in the region, in the current and in the next season of activity of mosquitoes.
Because of this, the Center for Control and Prevention of Diseases of Greece (KEELPNO) and National Center for blood donation, delayed temporary blood donation in 12 regions in Greece (8 areas affected by last year and 4 new, declared affected by malaria in 2016).
The affected areas in Greece are from the Peloponnese to Thessaloniki: Farkadona, Trikala, Palama, Tempe, Ahaj and Thebes (Central Greece); Evrotas and Andravida-Kyllini (Peloponnese); Halkida (Euboea); Marathon (Attica); and Lagada and Pylaia (Thessaloniki).
Assessment: At this point, the risk of malaria for travelers in Greece is low.
Situation in Europe
Most countries in Europe reported imported cases of malaria, and the number depends on the number of people traveling to endemic countries / areas where malaria is present constantly. For example, in the UK are registered 1,400 cases of malaria in 2015, and all are imported.
In Macedonia, in the last 10 year record of 2-5 cases per year, not every year, and rare fatal endings (2 deaths out of 23 cases for the period 2005-2015). In 2016, up to 24.08.2016, are registered 5 cases of imported malaria, with one death.
Assessment: In any country in Europe and in Macedonia also, there is a possibility and registration of imported cases of malaria in travelers returning from endemic countries. The risk of local extension of the disease is very small.
It continues to be in force recommendation for the application of standard precautions to protect against bites from mosquitoes, as well as most other vector-borne diseases (informational and educational materials for personal protection against mosquito bites available on the website of IPH – www. iph.mk).
Passengers in countries / regions where malaria is endemic disease (according to a list in-WHO publication International travel and health (ITH)) need to take antimalaric chemoprophylaxis before, during and after the return of these areas. Chemoprophylaxis is taken in the relevant Centre for Public Health.
Facts about malaria
Malaria is a life-threatening infectious disease caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected female mosquitoes. There are several types of Plasmodium of which P. falciparum is one of the deadliest parasites and is most prevalent in Africa, where there are concentrated most of the cases and deaths. Infection with malaria parasites can be present with different symptoms, which can be mild, but also very serious, and the disease can end with death. The first symptoms of malaria are: fever, headache, chills, and flu-like illness, vomiting, usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Without prompt treatment, malaria caused by P. falciparum can progress to severe disease and death.
Malaria is a disease that can be prevented and treated.
WHO recommends a comprehensive strategy for the prevention, control and elimination of malaria.
Key interventions include: the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and spraying insecticides indoors, diagnostic testing and treatment of confirmed cases with effective antimalaric drugs.
In recent years, the application of these measures contributed to dramatically reducing the burden of malaria worldwide. However, transmission of malaria persists in many countries around the world, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths annually.