Malaria advice issued for those visiting Greece

Holidaymakers choosing Greece this summer are being advised to take the necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites. The warning comes after six residents, five adults and a child, have been diagnosed with the malaria since June. The Health Protection Agency confirmed that none of the sufferers had visited a country where they might have contracted the disease.

A spokeswoman for the agency added that none of the carriers had died and all were making a recovery. The disease was contracted by the victims in marshy areas of the Peloponnese Peninsula and on the island of Euboea. The wetland areas are a common breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The authorities have increased monitoring of the mosquitoes in these areas and have also stepped up control programmes. Health officials and residents are also being made more aware of the symptoms of the disease and what precautions to take to best prevent infection.

According to travel health expert, Professor David Hill, the chances of catching malaria while on holiday in Greece are extremely small. He added that there was no need to start taking anti-malarial drugs but that protecting against any sort of insect bite was always advisable. He went on to say that mosquitoes could also transmit the West Nile virus which attacks the nervous system. There were around 200 reported cases in Greece in 2010.

HPA travel health expert, Jane Jones, said it was important for anyone experiencing the symptoms associated with malaria who has recently returned home from a country where the disease is present to seek medical advice immediately.

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