Epidemiological update: Malaria in Greece, 20 July 2012Archived

epidemiological update

A second case of local Plasmodium vivax malaria in Greece was reported on 17 July by KEELPNO, the Hellenic Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The case concerned a 48 year old female resident of the municipality of Evrotas, Lakonia.

On 22 June the Hellenic Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (KEELPNO) reported the first case of local Plasmodium vivax malaria in 2012 from Marathon, Attica region, Greece. The case was a 78-year-old male with onset of symptoms on 7 June, with no recent travel history in malaria endemic countries. The area of Marathon, Attica, was identified as the possible place of infection.

A second case of local Plasmodium vivax malaria was reported by KEELPNO on 17 July. The case concerned a 48 year old female resident of the municipality of Evrotas, Lakonia. The patient reported onset of symptoms on 29 June. The patient did not travel to a malaria-endemic area during the last 5 years.

In 2011, 40 cases of Plasmodium vivax infection were reported in Greece  in patients without travel history to a malaria endemic area from five different districts, namely Lakonia (n=34), Attiki (n=2), Evoia (n=2), Viotia (n=1) and Larissa (n=1). A cluster of cases was identified in the area of Evrotas, lakonia where 27 cases were in Greek citizens residing in the area and 7 in immigrants from non-endemic countries. In addition, 23 cases of P. vivax in Lakonia were reported in migrant farm workers from malaria endemic countries. The two local cases of Plasmodium vivax malaria reported in 2012 were both from localities affected in 2011.

According to the ECDC risk assessment in October 2011, the current risk for malaria infection in Greece is to persons residing and/or working in the affected areas of Greece. The risk for travellers is considered to be low since both areas are agricultural rather than touristic. The risk for further extension of malaria transmission into the European Union in relation to this event is considered low at present.

The KEELPNO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity and all stakeholders, developed and implements the strategic plan of action for malaria control in the country. The strategic plan determines all the control activities to be undertaken during the Anopheles season (spring-autumn 2012) in Greece. The main goal is to avoid the re-establishment of the disease in the country, through coordinated actions, which are implemented nationally and locally in a systematic manner.

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite, and transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes. The incubation period varies between 7 and 15 days, but long incubation periods of several months (and years) have been observed for P. vivax malaria. Malaria is characterised by fever and influenza-like symptoms, including chills, headache, myalgia, and malaise; these symptoms can occur at intervals.