Half of the UK's imported malaria cases are in London residents, a new report has revealed, leading Public Health England (PHE) to issue a warning.
London residents should have “increased awareness” about protecting against the disease, especially when visiting family abroad.
In total, the PHE laboratory found that 676 London residents had a confirmed case of malaria in 2012, out of the UK total of 1,378.
Between 2000 and 2012, 88% of all imported malaria cases in London were acquired in sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly West Africa.
People travelling to Nigeria accounted for 4,659 cases in London over the same period.
People born in a malaria endemic country are likely to have had some immunity to the infection through natural exposure to malaria parasites. However, once no longer living in such a country, and no longer being exposed to the infection, immunity rapidly wanes. Malaria medication is therefore required when visiting malarious countries.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director for PHE in London, said: “Malaria is a preventable disease, so it’s concerning that we continue to see high numbers of cases in London residents who have travelled abroad.
It’s also worrying that the majority of people (80%)* who contracted malaria reported not having taken anti-malarials during travel to areas where the disease is endemic.”