25 April 2012
Report published on malaria imported into the United Kingdom in 2011
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has published figures on cases of malaria reported in the United Kingdom (UK) during 2011 . These figures were compiled by the HPA Malaria Reference Laboratory.
There were 1,677 cases of malaria reported in 2011 compared with 1,761 cases in 2010 and 1,495 cases in 2009. Sixty nine percent of the cases were caused by the most serious type of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum; this proportion of falciparum malaria has been sustained over many years. Twenty-five per cent of cases were caused by P. vivax malaria, an increase compared to recent years and is mostly due due to an increased number of cases acquired in Pakistan. Eight deaths from malaria were reported, six from falciparum malaria acquired in Africa and two from vivax malaria acquired in India.
Where the region of travel was specified, 56% (811/1,448) of cases originated from West Africa. Among travellers who were normally resident in the UK, 80% (610/765) were travelling for the purpose of visiting friends and relatives. Both of these findings are similar to previous years. Lastly, 84% (803/954) of cases where the history was known had not taken malaria prevention tablets.
The publication of UK malaria data coincides with the third World Malaria Day on 25 April 2012. World Malaria Day was initiated by the World Health Assembly and aims to highlight malaria as a global health issue and recognise international efforts in controlling malaria, a disease which kills about a million people each year.
Advice for travellers
Malaria is a disease that is preventable. Not accessing accurate pre-travel medical advice or not adhering to the advice given is associated with the majority of cases in UK travellers.
All travellers should seek advice about the risk of malaria at their destination well in advance of their departure date, take appropriate malaria prevention tablets, and take measures to protect against night-time biting mosquitoes. Travellers to malaria risk areas should promptly report any illness, especially fever, during their trip or in the year following return, for urgent medical assessment and a malaria blood test.
1.Health Protection Agency. HPA reports 22 per cent increase in malaria cases returning from the Indian sub-continent. 25 April 2012. [Accessed 25 April 2012]. Available at: http://www.hpa.org.uk/webw/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/