Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Travellers to Greece given malaria warning

Travellers to Greece have been warned to take precautions against mosquito bites following six reported cases of malaria since June.

None of the victims – five Greek adults and a Roma child – had any history of travel to a country where the disease is commonplace.

The cases occurred in the Laconia region of the southern Peloponnese and on Euboea, a large island north of Athens. Greek authorities have responded with enhanced surveillance of malaria in the two areas, and intensified mosquito control programmes. Awareness has also been raised among doctors and local residents.

Professor David Hill, director of the Health Protection Agency’s National Travel Health Network and Centre, said: “The risk to holidaymakers of catching malaria while in Greece remains extremely low, so there is no need to take anti-malarial medication when visiting this country, but travellers should take measures to prevent being bitten.

“We already advise people travelling to Greece to prevent insect bites to protect against another mosquito-borne infection caused by West Nile virus,” he added. “This can cause a nervous system disease and over 200 cases were reported in Greece last year. The recent cases of malaria in Greece reinforce the importance of taking precautions against being bitten while on holiday.” more