Epidemiology of imported malaria among children and young adults in Barcelona (1990-2008)

Mireia Garcia-Villarrubia, Juan Pablo Millet, Patricia Garcia De Olalla, Joaquim Gascán, Victoria Fumadá, Jordi Gómez I Prat, Begoña Treviño, María Jesús Pinazo, Juan Cabezos, José Muñoz, Francesc Zarzuela, Joan A. Caylà

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Increasing international travel and migration is producing changes in trends in infectious diseases, especially in children from many European cities. The objective of this study was to describe the epidemiology and determine the trends of imported malaria in patients under 20 years old in the city of Barcelona, Spain, during an 18-year period. Methods. The study included malaria cases that were laboratory confirmed and reported to the malaria register at the Public Health Agency of Barcelona from 1990 to 2008, residing in Barcelona and less than 20 years old. Patients were classified as natives (born in Spain) or immigrants. Differences in the distribution of demographic, clinical characteristics, and incidence per 100,000 person-year evolution were analysed. Natives and immigrants were compared by logistic regression by calculating the odds ratio (OR) with a 95% confidence interval (CI) and Chi-square for a linear trend (p < 0.05). Results: Of the total 174 cases, 143 (82.1%) were immigrants, 100 (57.5%) were female, 121 (69.5%) Plasmodium falciparum, and 108 (62.1%) were visiting friends and relatives (VFR) as the reason for travel. Among the immigrants, 99 (67.8%) were from Equatorial Guinea. Immigrant cases more frequently travelled to Africa than natives (p = 0.02). The factors associated with imported malaria among immigrant residents was travelling for VFR (OR: 6.2 CI 1.9-20.2) and age 15-19 (OR: 3.7 CI 1-13.3). The incidence increased from 1990 to 1999 (p < 0.001) and decreased from 2000 to 2008 (p = 0.01), although the global linear trend was not statistically significant (p = 0.41). The fatality rate was 0.5%. Conclusions: The majority of cases of malaria in population less than 20 years in Barcelona were immigrants, travelling to Africa for VFR and Plasmodium falciparum was most frequently detected. The trend analysis of the entire study period did not show a statistically significant decline. It is recommended to be aware of malaria, especially among children of immigrants who travel to their parent's home country for VFR. Better access to pre travel advice should be provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number347
JournalMalaria journal
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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