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Ulster Med J. 2006 May;75(2):129-35.

Imported malaria to Northern Ireland: improving surveillance for better intervention.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Kelvin Building, Royal Hospitals Trust, Belfast.


Malaria is a preventable disease, which is under notified in the U.K. This study sought to evaluate the current surveillance arrangements in Northern Ireland (NI), describe the epidemiology of malaria and make appropriate recommendations. A case was defined as a resident or visitor to NI with laboratory confirmed malaria, diagnosed by the NI haematology laboratories and/or the Malaria Reference Laboratory (MRL) from 1998-2003. Laboratory data were compared with notifications and hospital admission data. One hundred and fourteen laboratory cases were identified compared with 63 notifications received by the regional surveillance centre. Six cases were associated with two episodes of malaria reflecting recurrence and or reinfection. P falciparum was the most common infection with two fatalities reported; this was particularly associated with travel to West Africa. Most cases were associated with short visits to malarious areas. Thirty-three percent of all cases did not take prophylaxis and, of those that did, approximately half were taking a prophylactic regime appropriate to the region visited. This study highlights the need for improved surveillance of malaria in order to capture risk factors and other relevant information to inform public and professional education. This would facilitate increasing local awareness, enhancing prescription of and compliance with appropriate chemoprophylaxis and enabling early diagnosis and treatment of malaria.

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