Malaria - Epidemiology


Based on documented cases, the WHO estimates that there were 216 million cases of malaria in 2010 resulting in 655,000 deaths. This is equivalent to roughly 2000 deaths every day. A 2012 study estimated the number of documented and undocumented deaths in 2010 was 1.24 million. The majority of cases (65%) occur in children under 15 years old. Pregnant women are also especially vulnerable: about 125 million pregnant women are at risk of infection each year. In Sub-Saharan Africa, maternal malaria is associated with up to 200,000 estimated infant deaths yearly. There are about 10,000 malaria cases per year in Western Europe, and 1300–1500 in the United States. About 900 people died from the disease in Europe between 1993 and 2003. Both the global incidence of disease and resulting mortality have declined in recent years. According to the WHO, deaths attributable to malaria in 2010 were reduced by over a third from a 2000 estimate of 985,000, largely due to the widespread use of insecticide-treated nets and artemisinin-based combination therapies.

Malaria is presently endemic in a broad band around the equator, in areas of the Americas, many parts of Asia, and much of Africa; however, it is in Sub-Saharan Africa where 85–90% of malaria fatalities occur. An estimate for 2009 reported that countries with the highest death rate per 100,000 of population were Ivory Coast with 86.15, Angola (56.93) and Burkina Faso (50.66). An estimate for 2010 said the deadliest countries per population were Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Mali. The Malaria Atlas Project aims to map global endemic levels of malaria, providing a means with which to determine the global spatial limits of the disease and to assess disease burden. This effort led to the publication of a map of P. falciparum endemicity in 2010. As of 2010, about 100 countries have endemic malaria. Every year, 125 million international travellers visit these countries, and more than 30,000 contract the disease.

The geographic distribution of malaria within large regions is complex, and malaria-afflicted and malaria-free areas are often found close to each other. Malaria is prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions because of rainfall, consistent high temperatures and high humidity, along with stagnant waters in which mosquito larvae readily mature, providing them with the environment they need for continuous breeding. In drier areas, outbreaks of malaria have been predicted with reasonable accuracy by mapping rainfall. Malaria is more common in rural areas than in cities. For example, several cities in the Greater Mekong Subregion of Southeast Asia are essentially malaria-free, but the disease is prevalent in many rural regions, including along international borders and forest fringes. In contrast, malaria in Africa is present in both rural and urban areas, though the risk is lower in the larger cities.

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