A new Health Protection Scotland report has found that in 2018 there were 52 reports of malaria in Scotland, an increase of 4% from the 2017 total.
63.46% of those recorded were male and 36.54% female, mean age for all reports was 40.15 years and reports peaked at 40-44 years for males, but females peaked across two groups at 30 – 34 years and 35-39 years.
Of the total for 2018, two reports (4.55%) came from unspecified parts of Africa. Three reports (6.82%) came from Asia (not South East or Far East): all of these came from India. One report (2.27%) came from South East Asia and Far East (Malaysia).
A Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) spokesperson commented: “Malaria is a serious tropical disease which can be fatal, and it must be treated rapidly. Spread by mosquitos, symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, headaches, vomiting, muscle pains and diarrhoea.”
They also reminded that malaria now mainly occurs in the tropical and sub-tropical zones, and that “it is absolutely vital that people who have recently travelled back to the UK from Africa, parts of the Middle East, Asia and Central or South America in particular report to their GP, should they experience the aforementioned symptoms.”
Imported malaria gives only an approximation of travellers’ exposure to infection. Some travellers may diagnosed with malaria and treated abroad and will never fall under the view of surveillance mechanisms in Scotland.
The report claims that “the total of 52 reports of malaria in Scotland for 2018 is unremarkable in comparison to recent years”, and that “most malaria identified in Scotland is African in origin, reflecting the high prevalence of malaria across much of the continent.”
The RCPE representative also mentioned that it is “important to find out whether you could develop malaria before travelling to more at risk parts of the world, so that you can get sound advice on how to reduce the risk of the disease: for example preventing mosquito bites and taking antimalarial medicine for prevention.”
There were about 219 million cases of malaria in 2017, increased from 217 million cases in 2016. Despite this increase, the overall trend is downward with 239 million cases having been recorded in 2010.