Malaria on the Move

Pim Martens, Lisbeth Hall, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2000;6(2) 

In This Article

Airport Malaria

Airport malaria is defined as malaria acquired through the bite of an infected tropical anopheline mosquito by persons whose geographic history excludes exposure to this vector in its natural habitat[28]. The vector is usually introduced into a nonendemic-disease country on an international flight. For example, random searches of airplanes at Gatwick Airport (London) found that 12 of 67 airplanes from tropical countries contained mosquitoes[29]. After a mosquito leaves the aircraft, it may survive long enough to take a blood meal and transmit the disease, usually in the vicinity of an airport. In temperate climates, temperature and humidity can be favorable in the summer for the mosquito not only to survive but also to move around and perhaps lay eggs. With the enormous and continuing increase in air traffic, cases of airport malaria may increase. Several such cases are described below.

During a hot summer in 1994, six cases of airport malaria were identified in and around Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport[30]. Four of the patients were airport workers, and the others lived in Villeparisis, approximately 7.5 km away. Anopheline mosquitoes were thought to have traveled in the cars of airport workers who lived next door to two of the patients. In 1989, two cases of P. falciparum malaria were identified in Italy in two persons who lived in Geneva[31]. Another five cases of airport malaria were reported in Geneva in the summer of 1989[32]. High minimum temperatures were thought to have allowed the survival of infected anophelines introduced by aircraft. In Britain, two cases of P. falciparum malaria were observed in persons living 10 km and 15 km from Gatwick Airport[33]. Hot, humid weather in Britain may have facilitated the survival of an imported mosquito.


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