In 2015, Venezuela saw a record number of malaria cases with 136,402, the most reported in 75 years, since reliable records have been kept in the country. However, the situation is much worse in the South American country during the first 33 weeks of 2016.
The Sociedad Venezolana de Salud Pública Red Defendamos la Epidemiología, or the Venezuelan Society Epidemiology and Public Health reported today that through Aug. 20, Venezuela has seen 143,987 cases of malaria, representing an increase of 72.2% over the previous period in 2015 (83,623).
“In total, 3,635 new indigenous cases were identified in epidemiological week No. 33 of 2016, from 14 to 20 August,” says the statement of the Venezuelan Society Epidemiology and Public Health.
Of the total of indigenous cases in the country, 9.48%, or 13,758 cases were in children under 10 years old.
Bolivar, the large state in eastern Venezuela, bordering Brazil and Guyana, still accounts for the majority of cases 114,963, or nearly eight out of 10 cases.
Of immediate concern is reports that indicate that the antimalarial drug, artemisinin, essential for the treatment of the most pathogenic strain of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, are running low in stock. In Bolivar, where the epidemic is most severe, drug stocks are depleted as are diagnostic supplies like Giemsa stain and immunological rapid tests.
Of the 106 countries globally with continuous malaria transmission, 102 reduced the annual incidence between 1990 and 2015 by 37 percent . Venezuela is part of the group of four countries that has seen an increase in the incidence of malaria, in fact, the incidence increased by 356 percent in Venezuela.
Editor’s note: Thanks to Leopoldo Villegas, MD, DTM&H, MSc, DrPH, AdvDPHM for providing the information and data concerning this epidemic in Venezuela.