Jet-setting mosquitoes pose widespread malaria risk : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Wednesday August 23 12:28 PM ET Jet-setting mosquitoes pose widespread malaria risk

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Mosquitoes that hop airplanes flying out of malaria-stricken countries pose a risk to people in areas where the infection is rare, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Between 1969 and 1999, there were 89 reported cases of ''airport malaria''-infections transmitted in or nearby international airports. France had the most cases, with 26. Belgium had 17 cases and there were 14 in the UK. The US reported 4 instances of airport malaria. Dr. Norman G. Gratz and his colleagues report the statistics in the August issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

A potentially life-threatening disease transmitted by mosquitoes, malaria strikes between 300 million and 500 million people worldwide each year, according to WHO estimates. The disease is endemic in parts of Central and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent.

``Imported malaria'' is particularly dangerous, according to Gratz's team, because doctors do not suspect the disease--malaria is marked by non-specific, flu-like symptoms. So patients may die before the diagnosis is made. The researchers note that malaria has been reintroduced in limited outbreaks in countries where it was once eradicated--including Germany, Italy, and the US. In most of these cases, an infected traveler has been to blame, but some outbreaks may have been caused by imported mosquitoes, according to the report.

A ``serious consequence'' of mosquitoes' plane hopping is that they may establish themselves in new countries, Gratz and his colleagues write. Tropical mosquitoes would, however, be unlikely to last in temperate climates.

WHO recommends that planes flying out of malaria-stricken areas be regularly sprayed with pesticide to cut the risk of importing infected mosquitoes.

SOURCE: Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2000;78:995-1004.

-- K (, August 23, 2000

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