Urban malaria risk in sub-Saharan Africa: where is the evidence?Travel Med Infect Dis. 2007 Mar; 5(2):135-7.TM
It is essential that the precautions that are advisable for travel in sub-Saharan Africa, including antimalarial prophylaxis, are supported by evidence. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 90% of global malaria cases and the more serious falciparum form predominates. The risk of malaria transmission is qualitatively much greater in rural than urban areas. However, there is little quantitative data on the risk in urban areas on which to base a risk assessment. Rapid urban population growth and trends of tourism to urban-only (rather than rural) areas both support the need to focus attention on the level of risk in malaria endemic African cities. There is evidence in urban settings that the reduced intensity of malaria transmission is due to a decline in the level of parasitism in the local population and reduced anophelism. The most useful evidence for an urban risk assessment is the entomological inoculation rate (EIR) which is generally below 30 infective bites per person per year. Transmission is acknowledged to be much lower in central urban areas compared with peri-urban areas or rural areas. Transmission is local and focal because the anopheles mosquito has a limited flight range of several kilometres. The risk assessment should examine nocturnal activities outside an air-conditioned environment (because the anopheline mosquito only bites between dusk and dawn) and the level of adherence to accompanying protective measures. Several studies have noted the protection air-conditioning provides against malaria. Evidence of low occupational risk for airline crew, unprotected by prophylaxis, from brief layovers of several nights in quality hotels in 8 endemic cities is explored. A literature search examines the evidence of environmental surveys and entomological inoculation rates. The limitations of the available data are discussed, including the highly focal nature of malaria transmission.