Armenia to be declared malaria free

Armenia will be declared a malaria free zone by the World Health Organization by the end of 2011.

There have been no reported cases of malaria in Armenia since 2006, according to The Ministry of Health, which has overseen the country’s malaria control program, announced that Armenia is the first country in the region to have successfully eliminated locally acquired cases of the disease.

Concerted efforts over the last decade reduced the malaria burden in Armenia to the point of elimination. Armenia was declared free of malaria in 1963, but the local transmission of Plasmodium vivax, a malarial strain, reappeared in 1994, according to the WHO.

Following the deterioration of preventative programs and disease surveillance systems, reported cases peaked at 1156 in 1998.

In 2009, three years after the last confirmed locally transmitted case, Armenia requested that the director-general of the WHO initiate the process of malaria elimination certification.

Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The parasites collect in the liver, where they multiply and then infect red blood cells.

Symptoms of malaria include headache, fever and vomiting, and usually appear within two weeks of a victim being bitten by an infected mosquito.