Malaria warning issued for Greece

Six confirmed cases of malaria have been reported in Greece since June, prompting health officials to warn tourists to take precautions against mosquito bites.

None of the five Greek adults and one Roma child who contracted the illness had recently traveled to areas where malaria is considered endemic, prompting Greek health authorities to increase mosquito control programs in the region where the infections occurred, according to the Telegraph.

All of the cases were reported in the Laconia region of the southern Peloponnese and on Euboea, a large island north of Athens. Greek authorities have increased malaria surveillance in the two areas and are attempting to enhance awareness of the threat among the public and local doctors.

Professor David Hill of the U.K. Health Protection Agency’s Nation Travel Health Network and Center warned potential visitors to Greece to take moderate precautions against mosquito bites and reiterated a warning against West Nile Virus, a more common infection.

“The risk to holidaymakers of catching malaria while in Greece remains extremely low, so there is no need to take anti-malarial medication when visiting this country, but travelers should take measures to prevent being bitten,” Hill said, the Telegraph reports. “We already advise people traveling 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.”