Jelinek, Thomas; Nothdurft, H. D.; Löscher, Thomas
Malaria in Nonimmune Travelers. A Synopsis of History, Symptoms, and Treatment in 160 Patients.
In: Journal of Travel Medicine, Vol. 1, No. 4: pp. 199-202
Background: With the current increase of international travel to tropical endemic areas, the incidence of malaria being imported into nonendemic countries has increased significantly. Disagreement concerning malaria chemoprophylaxis and inadequate knowledge of malarious areas, morbidity, and pretravel advise has led to confusion among both health professionals as well as travelers. Therefore, this study was conducted to investigate malaria imported into Germany by identifying the high-risk endemic areas, clinical presentations, and chemoprophylactic and therapeutic regimens related to reported cases.
Methods: Between 1990 and 1993, the 160 nonimmune travelers, all German nationals or residents for more than 10 years, presenting to our travel clinic with microscopically confirmed malaria were investigated. For each, the travel history, chemoprophylaxis used during travel, symptoms, pathological diagnosis, and treatment efficacy were analyzed.
Results: Africa (73%), Asia (21%), and Central South America (6%) were the endemic countries visited by our patients, of whom only 3% used the chemoprophylaxis recommended for their destination. Plasmodium falciparum was the most common pathogen, found in more than half of our patients, and P. vivax (29%), P. ova le (6%), P. malariae(6%), a mixed infection with P.falciparum and P vivax (3%) were also detected. All patients presented with fever and headaches, a majority with profuse night sweats, insomnia, arthralgias, and myalgias, and diarrhea and abdominal cramps were experienced in 13% and 8%, respectively. In falciparum malaria, a recrudescence was observed in all patients who received chloroquine only, whereas quinine, halofantrine, and mefloquine were highly effective. In vivax malaria, a relapse rate of 14% was noted in the patients treated with the currently recommended regimen of chloroquine and primaquine.
Conclusions: Visitors to endemic countries, especially to Africa, are of significant risk. Given the low compliance rate of chemoprophylaxis, a high percentage of malaria in our patients could have been avoided by an appropriate prophylaxis regimen and optimal pretravel counseling.