Epidemiological update: Local cases of malaria in Greece, September- October 2013
The Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) has reported three autochthonous cases of Plasmodium vivax malaria up to 16 November 2013; two from Alexandroupolis municipality in the region of Evros and one from the municipality of Sofades in the Karditsa region. The cases had onset of symptoms from end of September to beginning of November 2013.
In addition to the three autochthonous cases, Greece reported 17 confirmed cases classified as imported malaria. Ten of the imported cases were among immigrants from malaria endemic countries and seven were among travellers to malaria endemic areas. Eight of the imported cases were due to Plasmodium vivax infections and nine were due to Plasmodium falciparum.The three autochthonous cases in 2013 are reported from agricultural areas where immigrants from malaria endemic countries reside and work. It is the first time since 2009 that the Alexandroupolis municipality has been affected. Alexandroupolis is an historical area of malaria transmission that shares environmental and epidemiological characteristics with the areas were autochthonous transmission of Plasmodium vivax has occurred since 2009; large wetlands and farms, and migrant workers from malaria endemic countries living in the area. The occurrence of autochthonous Plasmodium vivax cases in Alexandroupolis is therefore not unexpected.The current risk of malaria infection is restricted mainly to persons residing or working in the affected areas of Greece. The risk for tourists visiting Greece is considered very low because the transmission areas are agricultural and do not attract large number of tourists (see ECDC update). The use of standard mosquito biting prevention measures continues to be recommended for Greece. The 2013 malaria transmission season is now coming to an end and the risk will decrease further.
Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites. During the 20th century, malaria was eradicated from many temperate areas, including the whole of the EU, and is now limited to tropical countries. Due to the large number of imported cases in Europe, malaria is mainly a travel medicine issue.Read more
Rapid risk assessment: Update on autochthonous Plasmodium vivax malaria in Greece
11 Oct 2011 - The ECDC risk, as assessed on 23 August 2011, remains unchanged. The main risk is to persons residing in, visiting and working in the affected areas of Greece, particularly Evrotas in Lakonia. The risk for further extension of malaria transmission into the EU as a result of this event is considered low at present. EU national blood competent authorities should be considering whether to implement deferral measures for persons returning from these specific affected areas in Greece, taking into consideration measures currently implemented by the Greek blood safety authorities and after a considered risk assessment in collaboration with their national public health authorities.