MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

U.K. PHE advocates malaria vaccinations for travelers

A report recently released by the United Kingdom government found that half of all cases of malaria confirmed in the U.K. between 2000 and 2012 were concentrated in London.

Following the report's release, Public Health England advocated that U.K. residents who plan to travel to countries where malaria runs rampant get vaccinated before their travels.

"Malaria is a preventable disease, so it's concerning that we continue to see high numbers of cases in London residents who have traveled abroad," Regional Director for PHE in London Dr. Yvonne Doyle said. "It's also worrying that the majority of people who contracted malaria reported not having taken anti-malarials during travel to areas where the disease is endemic."

PHE reported approximately 80 percent of all cases of malaria in the U.K. occurred among people who were not vaccinated against the disease. Approximately 88 percent of all cases of malaria in London were acquired in sub-Saharan Africa and West Africa.

The majority of all confirmed cases in London came from residents of the South East London Boroughs. These boroughs have a high number of residents with African heritage; it is assumed the area was the most affected by disease because its residents are likely to travel to Africa to visit relatives.

"Often people living in the UK who were born in a country affected by malaria may incorrectly believe that they are 'immune' to malaria," Doyle said. "The reality is that any resistance they may have to the infection decreases rapidly once people come to live in the U.K. It's therefore important to improve awareness of the disease, including mosquito-avoidance advice, access to and therefore uptake of malaria prophylaxis, particularly for black African ethnic groups where the burden of malaria is greatest."