Epidemiological update: Malaria risk to travellers in Greece remains low, 7 September 2012Archived

Epidemiological update

On 22 June 2012 the Hellenic Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (KEELPNO) reported the first locally acquired case of Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) malaria, from Marathon area in Attica region, Greece. As of 3 September, KEELPNO has reported 50 cases of malaria since the beginning of 2012 in Greece.

On 22 June 2012 the Hellenic Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (KEELPNO) reported the first locally acquired case of Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) malaria, from Marathon area in Attica region, Greece. As of 3 September, KEELPNO has reported 50 cases of malaria since the beginning of 2012 in Greece. Forty-two of these concerned immigrants from malaria-endemic countries and were classified as imported cases while eight were classified as locally acquired. Of those eight cases, four were reported from the municipality of Evrotas, Laconia, and four from the department of East Attica in the Marathon area (2) and in Markopoulo (2). All samples were confirmed P. Vivax positive by the reference public health laboratory.

In 2011, 40 cases of P. vivax infection were reported in Greece in patients without travel history to a malaria-endemic area from five different districts, namely Laconia (34), Attica (2), Evvoia (2), Viotia (1) and Larisa (1). A cluster involving 27 Greek resident cases and 7 immigrant cases from non-endemic countries was identified in the area of Evrotas, Laconia. In addition, 23 cases of P. vivax in Lakonia were reported in migrant farm workers from malaria-endemic countries.

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.

According to ECDC‘s risk assessment, 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 Europe in relation to this event is considered low at present. Taking account of the present malaria situation in Greece, ECDC, the consulted experts from EuroTravNet and WHO do not recommend chemoprophylaxis for travellers to the agricultural areas of the Laconia region. The use of standard mosquito biting prevention measures continues to be recommended.

The KEELPNO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity and all stakeholders, developed and is implementing the strategic plan of action for malaria control in the country which defines 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.