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01.12.2017 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Malaria Journal 1/2017

Epidemiological and clinical assessment of a shared territorial malaria guideline in the 10 years of its implementation (Barcelona, North Metropolitan Area, Catalonia, Spain, 2007–2016)

Malaria Journal > Ausgabe 1/2017
Josep M. Mòdol, Sílvia Roure, Àlex Smithson, Gema Fernández-Rivas, Anna Esquerrà, Neus Robert, María Méndez, Javier Ramos, Anna Carreres, Lluís Valerio



Malaria remains a major source of morbi-mortality among travellers. In 2007, a consensual multicenter Primary Care-Hospital shared guideline on travel-prior chemoprophylaxis, diagnosis and clinical management of imported malaria was set up in the Barcelona North Metropolitan area. The aim of the study is to assess the evolution of malaria cases in the area as well as its clinical management over the 10 years of its implementation.


A total of 190 malaria cases, all them imported, have been recorded. The overall estimated malaria crude incidence was of 0.47 cases per 10,000 population/year (95% CI 0.34–0.59) with a slight significant positive slope especially at the expense of an increase in Indian sub-continent Plasmodium vivax cases. The number of patients who attended the pre-travel consultation was low (13.7%) as well as those with prescribed chemoprophylaxis (10%). Severe malaria was diagnosed in 34 (17.9%) patients and ICU admittance was required in 2.6% of them. Organ sequelae (two renal failures and one post-acute distress respiratory syndrome) were recorded in 3 patients at hospital discharge, although all three were recovered at 30 days. None of the patients died. Patients complying with severity criteria were significantly males (p = 0.04), came from Africa (p = 0.02), were mainly non-immigrant travellers (p = 0.01) and were attended in a hospital setting (p < 0.001). The most frequently identified species was Plasmodium falciparum (64.2%), P. vivax (23.2%), Plasmodium malariae (1.6%) and Plasmodium ovale (1.1%). Those patients diagnosed with P. falciparum malaria came more often from sub-Saharan Africa (p < 0.001) and those with P. vivax came largely from the Indian sub-continent (p = 0.003). Among the 126 patients in whom an immunochromatographic antigenic test was performed, the result was interpreted as falsely negative in 12.1% of them. False negative results can be related to cases with <1% parasitaemia.


After 10 years of surveillance, a moderate increase in malaria incidence was observed, mostly P. vivax cases imported from the Indian sub-continent. Although severe malaria cases have been frequently reported, none of the patients died and organ sequelae were rare. Conceivably, the participation of the Primary Care and the District and Third Level Hospital professionals defining surveillance, diagnostic tests, referral criteria and clinical management can be considered a useful tool to minimize malaria morbi-mortality.
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