independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Malaria cases lowest since 2005

The number of people diagnosed with malaria here fell to 61 last year, the lowest level since 2005.

Ireland had the second-highest incidence rate in Europe for malaria in 2009 with the UK coming first.

Last year men aged 35 to 55 accounted for 41 of the cases but eight children were diagnosed with the disease.

Only one case was associated with holiday travel in 2011, down from a high of 13 in 2006.

The group most affected in Ireland continued to be African immigrants and their families who were exposed while returning to "visit family in country of origin."

Several factors could have contributed to this decline and it could reflect improved awareness of the risk of malaria, and better uptake of travel advice, said the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

But it is probably at least in part due to fewer journeys by Irish residents to Africa in recent years, following Ireland's economic downturn, it added.

Children can be particularly at risk and it is important that those born in Western and Central Africa who take up residence in Ireland and who return to their country of origin with their Irish-born children are made aware of the fact that they have no innate immunity to malaria.

Their own immunity is also likely to have waned.

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