Background: Falciparum malaria or malaria tropica is one of the leading causes of childhood mortality worldwide. Malaria-related deaths occur mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, where an estimated 365 million clinical cases of Plasmodium falciparum malaria occur each year. In Europe, imported malaria cases occur due to returning travellers or immigration mostly from African countries. Children are more at risk than adults. The objective of this study was to identify high risk groups for imported childhood malaria in Europe in order to guide development of strategies for prevention, early recognition and management. Methods: In the period May 2003-January 2005 we reviewed all cases of paediatric malaria in the Netherlands notified by the Dutch Paediatric Surveillance System (Nederland Signalerings Centrum Kindergeneeskunde, NSCK) and the literature on imported malaria in children in Europe published between 1996 and 2006. Results: Malaria occurred mainly in children of long-term (n = 15, 47%) and new (n = 8, 25%) immigrants and was mostly acquired in sub-Saharan Africa. The dominant species was P. falciparum. Only one quarter of children had used adequate malaria chemoprophylaxis. Complicated disease occurred in 10 (31%) of cases. We also reviewed the literature and found 6082 reported cases of imported malaria among children in Europe; among these, four died and only one was reported to develop neurological sequelae. Conclusion: Imported malaria in children remains an important problem and is unlikely to decrease unless the reasons for inadequate prophylaxis are addressed.

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European Journal of Public Health
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Driessen, G.J.A, Pereira, R, Brabin, B.J, & Hartwig, N.G. (2008). Imported malaria in children: A national surveillance in the Netherlands and a review of European studies. European Journal of Public Health (Vol. 18, pp. 184–188). doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckm101