Thursday, July 16, 2009

Malaria in Libya

Malaria is rare in the desert regions, but Libya has reported some cases of Malaria outbreaks and fears the invasion of mosquitoes carrying the deadly disease.

Map provided by Wikimedia Commons

For the most part, the natural climate of Libya protects it from Malaria outbreak. Libya "is an extremely arid North African country extending southwards from the Mediterranean into the Sahara" (Ramsdale). "Many Libyan oases, like those in other parts of the Sahara, have a history of occasional outbreaks of malaria involving Plasmodium vivax" (Grassi and Feletti) and P. farcipamm (Welch). "The latter species of malaria parasite has been eradicated from the Mediterranean basin but still predominates in Africa south of the Sahara" (Ramsdale).

Although Libya is safe within the Mediterranean basin and sheltered by the Sahara, it is still at risk for malaria. "In Libya, a continuing influx of foreign workers, many from highly malarious parts of the world, ensures the maintenance of a parasite reservoir probably larger than at any time in the past" (Ramsdale). "Malaria was endemic in libya until 1973 where it was declared by WHO to be a country free of malaria" (Kraza). "The situation continued like this until 1976 where there was an epidemic of febrile illness among petroleum company workers ...blood slides of all" cases "were positive for falciparum malaria, reconfirmed in a referral lab" (Kraza). In 2004, cases of malaria were again discovered in Libya. "All cases" were "confirmed microscopically" and were considered "imported, except for one case thought to be introduced" from an imported case (Kraza). The National Center for Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control cites the mission purpose "to prevent reemergence of malaria transmission in the country and to control imported malaria" (Kraza).

The potential for introduction of the fatal malaria parasite is possible in Libya. The feeling of safety against malaria that has developed in Libya in recent years may be dangerous. It is important to remain vigilant in diagnosing new cases and educating the populace about malaria avoidance.

Kraza, Ibrahim. "Malaria in Libyan Jamahirya during 2004". National Center For Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control. Damascus 2005.
Ramsdale, C.D. Mosquito Systematics. "Anopheles: Mosquitoes and Imported Malaria in Libya." Vol 22, No.1.
Wikimedia Commons. Location Libya.

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