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22% increase in malaria cases

25th April 2012

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has issued a new warning to British travellers over the risk of catching malaria during overseas travel.

Mosquito

New figures from the HPA – published on World Malaria Day – show a sharp rise in cases among travellers returning from the Indian sub-continent.

Overall, there was a 5% decreased in malaria infections reported in 2011 (1,677) compared to 2010 (1,761).

But cases among travellers returning from the Indian-subcontinent increased by 22%, from 274 cases in 2010 to 334 cases in 2011, though much of that has been put down to a doubling of cases of Plasmodium vivax malaria acquired in Pakistan.

The agency said the most common type of malaria reported in the UK is the potentially fatal falciparum malaria, which is usually acquired in West Africa and accounted for 1,149 cases reported in the UK.

In 2011, eight deaths from malaria were reported, six from falciparum malaria acquired in Africa and two from vivax malaria acquired in India.

The group who continue to be at highest risk of contracting malaria are those visiting friends and relatives.

Professor Peter Chiodini, head of the HPA's Malaria Reference Laboratory, said: “Today is World Malaria Day which provides a timely reminder to anyone who is travelling to a country where malaria is present to take travel advice and appropriate malaria medication to protect themselves.

“Anyone who has been to a malaria risk area anywhere in the world should seek urgent medical attention if they become unwell after their return to the UK.”

 

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