From New Scientist
Tropical Killer Flies North
DATELINE: September 11, 1999
SECTION: This Week, Pg. 14
BYLINE: Debora MacKenzie
FIVE cases of malaria among people who have never been to a region where the
disease is endemic have revived fears that it is returning to Europe and North
Three of the cases were in Luxembourg, all within a few kilometres of the
country's international airport. They were probably caused by mosquitoes that
had stowed away on aircraft flying in from the tropics. Sporadic cases have
occurred near European airports before, but incidents are becoming more common
as air travel and global warming increase.
Robert Hemmer of Luxembourg's National Service for Infectious Diseases notes
that the last cases of airport malaria in the country, in 1997, occurred during
hot weather similar to that in Europe this summer. Luxembourg is now
spraying more aircraft with insecticide on arrival.
The other two cases, in New York state in the US, highlight the concern that
local mosquitoes can acquire the parasite from humans and continue the chain of
infection. Two boy scouts who attended a summer camp near wetland in Long
developed malaria in late August. Mosquitoes carrying the malaria parasite were
found near the camp. They were probably infected after biting someone who had
carried the disease from the tropics. The whole area was sprayed and all 1500
members of the camp were traced and warned of the risk.
Until the 19th century, malaria was endemic in much of North America, and in
Europe it reached as far north as Britain. All the latest cases have responded
to treatment, but the Malaria Foundation International, a research network
in London, estimates that 300 children in the tropics die of the disease every
For more science news see New Scientist.
Webmaster's Note:This article notes potential for transport of malaria from endemic areas to currently non-endemic areas. Please note that Luxembourg [as well as other countries in western Europe] and the United States have not demonstrated continuous malaria transmission at this time. There have been instances of sporadic locally transmitted cases in these countries during the 1980s and 1990s but transmission has not carried over through the winter.
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