Not just a tropical disease
Climate change and international travel could make malaria endemic in the UK again
- By: Alice Buchan
The mosquito has been described as the most dangerous animal on the planet.1 In 2012 there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria and 660 000 deaths caused by it,2 as well as more from other mosquito borne diseases—such as dengue fever, yellow fever, and West Nile virus—so the claim seems justified. Although mosquitoes—including the Anopheles genus that carries the Plasmodium parasite that causes malaria—live in much of Europe,3 the United States,4 and Australia,5 malaria in the UK is considered a disease of travellers. To those living in more temperate areas, such as the south of England, mosquitoes are seen as a summer pest. An outbreak of malaria is not something medical students in the UK are taught to worry about.
Is this confidence complacent? Reports exist of autochthonous (local) transmission of malaria (via mosquitoes) from infected travellers to people who have not recently travelled to areas where malaria is