Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Malaria in Russia

Many people believe that it is impossible to contract malaria in countries that are far away from the tropics. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Even Russia is not immune to the threat of malaria.

"Dozens of people acquire malaria infections in Moscow annually". Most of these cases are "due to people who arrive in the city from southern countries", but surprisingly some people become "infected from home-grown strains of the disease" (Dmitriyev). In 2007, "128 incidents of malaria were registered in Russia. Two of the cases proved fatal. The average annual rate is 100 cases, with the bulk of them occurring in Moscow, Moscow Region and St. Petersburg" (Dmitriyev).

Because malaria is not as prevalent in Russia as it is in tropical regions of the world, "doctors in Russia often lack qualification to diagnose patients" with malaria "and provide the appropriate medical treatment in a timely fashion. Even more often, they fail to determine the exact form of the disease. This may lead to multiple after-effects resulting in the patient's death" (Dmitriyev).

Global climate change threatens to unleash new waves of malaria in Russia. From history, we can see how rises in malaria cases directly corresponds with warm years. For example, "extensive flooding in 1922 resulted in the creation of standing pools of water over wide areas of the upper Volga River basin, which resulted in an explosion of the population of ...mosquitoes" (Packard 7).

"Less than half of all malaria cases in Russia...are caused by guests from tropical countries" (Dmitriyev). Reservoirs, water-logged ditches, and stagnant ponds at parks and recreation areas provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes in Russia. In June of 2008, "the human welfare service successfully eradicated the bulk of the mosquitoes' larvae at several Moscow administrative districts" through regular spraying of these breeding areas (Dmitriyev).

Russia is also contributing to the movement to eradicate malaria worldwide. In 2007, Russia "committed $US 20 MLN to the task" of fighting malaria in Africa. In response, Dr. Brian Chituwa (Zambian Minister of Health) said, "We are confident that this significant contribution will reduce malaria deaths and bring us closer to achieving our millennium development goals" (Russia).



Sources:
Dmitriyev, Sergey. "Malaria Threat." The Moscow News. 24 Jul 2008.

Packard, Randall M. The making of a tropical disease.

"Russia Joins the Fight Against African Malaria." Russia Today. 20 Oct 2007.

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