Malaria outbreak in Greece

Six cases of malaria have been reported in Greece since June 2011, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Of the six, five were Greek adults and one a Roma child. None of the victims had any history of travel to a country where malaria is common.

This is the third consecutive year that malaria outbreaks have been reported in Greece.

The two areas which were affected were the districts of Laconia in the south and Evoia in the east. The Greek authorities have responded to this situation by establishing enhanced surveillance of malaria in the two areas and by intensifying local mosquito control programmes. Awareness has also been raised among doctors and local residents.

Professor David Hill, Director of the HPA's National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) said: "The risk to holiday makers of catching malaria while in Greece remains extremely low, so there is no need to take anti-malarials 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. 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."

Dr Jane Jones, a travel health expert at the HPA, said: "Although the risk of catching malaria while in Greece is extremely low it's important that travellers returning from affected areas seek medical advice promptly if they experience symptoms of malaria, which include fever, headache, and muscle pains. The HPA is also advising health professionals to consider mosquito borne illnesses in travellers returning from Greece with relevant symptoms and ensure they are tested appropriately."

If you experience any symptoms of malaria, which include fever, headache and muscle pains, then you should seek immediate medical advice.

For further advice then go to our travel health section.