Greece Battles Malaria Comeback Four Decades After Elimination

Greece, declared free of malaria almost 40 years ago, is battling to prevent the mosquito-borne disease from making a comeback as local transmission has resurfaced in the past two years.

Outbreaks of locally transmitted malaria since 2011 in the regions of Laconia and East Attica are making it urgent to increase surveillance and take mosquito control measures to eliminate the risk of the disease becoming re-established, researchers from the Hellenic Center for Diseases Control and Prevention wrote in the journal Eurosurveillance yesterday.

Once entrenched in Greece, malaria was officially eliminated in 1974. Immigrants from countries where malaria is widespread have brought the disease with them, raising the risk that malaria could again gain a foothold in Greece, according to the report.

“It is becoming urgent to strengthen surveillance and perform integrated mosquito control that will help eliminate the potential risk of malaria reintroduction and reestablishment,” the researchers wrote.

This year 16 cases of locally-transmitted malaria have been reported in Greece as of Oct. 26, after 27 cases were reported last year, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Greek health authorities are working with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization to combat malaria, according to the report.

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