While malaria incidence has dropped in countries in the Caribbean and Central and South America since the turn of the century, UN health officials are reporting an increase in malaria transmission in certain areas of this region in 2016, including an increase in the most serious strain of the mosquito borne parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.
According to a new Pan American Health Organization Epidemiological Alert this week, in 2015, a total of 451,242 malaria cases were reported in the Region of the Americas, representing a 62% decrease in comparison with cases reported in 2000, but representing a 16% increase compared to the cases reported in 2014, the year with the lowest number of malaria cases in the last four decades.
In 2015, eight of the 21 endemic countries (the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru) reported an increase in cases compared to the previous year.
In 2016, the increasing trend of malaria cases continued in some countries. Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela reported an increase in malaria cases and an increase in the proportion of cases of Plasmodium falciparum in comparison to those caused by Plasmodium vivax.
In Colombia in 2016, a total of 83,356 malaria cases were reported, of which 57% (47,497) were P. falciparum, 39.7% (33,055) were P. vivax, and 3.3% (2,804) were mixed infections.
In contrast, in 2013, two-thirds of the malaria cases in Colombia were P. vivax and the total cases is the highest since 2010.
In Ecuador, 926 cases of malaria were reported, of which 69% (639) were P. vivax and 31% (287) were P. falciparum in 2016, an increase over 2014 and 2015. Similarly, there was an increase in the number of reported cases of malaria due to P. falciparum compared to that reported in 2015.
As indicated by the Ministry of Public Health, the increase in cases in Ecuador in 2016 could be explained by the increase in migratory activity between communities in border areas.
In Venezuela, an increase in malaria cases has been observed since 2010 and, by 2016, there were 240,613 cases, representing a 76% increase over the same period of the previous year (136,402 cases).
In addition, Honduras and Peru reported an increase in the proportion of P. falciparum malaria cases, in relation to those caused by Plasmodium vivax, in the country’s main transmission areas.
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