Malaria Found in Refugees from Sub-Saharan Africa

August 18, 2008

Refugees recently arrived from sub-Saharan Africa may be infected with malaria, even if they received treatment before arriving in the United States, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in the Aug. 15 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

MONDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Refugees recently arrived from sub-Saharan Africa may be infected with malaria, even if they received treatment before arriving in the United States, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in the Aug. 15 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The report describes three cases of Plasmodium falciparum malaria and two cases of Plasmodium ovale malaria in King County, Wash., from June 27 to Oct. 15, 2007. All cases occurred in Burundian children (2-9 years old) from two refugee camps in Tanzania who had recently arrived in the United States. All patients recovered after further treatment.

CDC officials note that all patients had initiated presumptive treatment for malaria before leaving Tanzania, four with artemether-lumefantrine and one with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. Of 1,805 Burundian refugees arriving in 34 U.S. states from May 4 to July 7, 2007, there were 29 symptomatic cases of malaria, and all had received sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine before departure rather than artemether-lumefantrine recommended by the CDC since 2005 for refugees from sub-Saharan Africa.

"Up to 10,000 Burundian refugees from Tanzania will have been resettled in the United States during 2007-2008," CDC officials note. "Health care providers in the United States caring for refugee populations resettling from malarial regions should remain aware of the possibility of malaria in these groups, regardless of prior treatment."

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