Malaria outbreak in Aswan

06-06-2014 05:53 PM

Georgette Sadeq

The village of al-Edwa Sharqi in the southermost Egyptian province of Aswan has been the scene of a recent outbreak of Malaria fever.

According to the Health Ministry, some 15 cases of Malaria were reported from 26 May till 4 June. No more cases were reported. Muhammad Azmy, deputy to the Health Minister in Aswan, told Watani that 13 cases have been treated and left the Aswan Fevers Hospital. But two remain yet under treatment. 
Sudan’s illegal immigrants
Once the Health Ministry was informed of the first two cases of Malaria in Edwa, a fact finding commission that included some 70 health experts was dispatched to Aswan. Accompanying them was the Health Minister Adel Adawi. It was of the utmost important to know how Malaria broke out in Aswan, since the disease is not endemic in Egypt, meaning it should have come from outside the country. None of the patients who had contracted the disease had travelled outside Egypt. 
The commission found out that, in the vicinity of the village of Edwa, there were some five worked-out quarries the sites of which had filled with stagnant water that had become infested with weeds and mosquitoes. The first two Malaria patients lived in houses close to those stagnant ponds. Aswan governer was informed, and gave orders that the water ponds would be filled with sand, a measure that was directly executed. 
Yet the presence of the mosquitoes would not alone have brought about the Malaria cases, since the insect is not itself the cause of the disease but only a carrier of the Malaria parasite. The parasite, it was discovered, had been brought into Egypt by Sudanese illegal immigrants who entered Egypt through its southern border and made their home in the villages of Aswan. According to local reports, Dr Azmy says, the number of these immigrants has reached some 1000 and they live in a community which has earned the name “Village of the Sudanese”. The fact-finding commission found out that the Sudanese immigrants, together with some Aswanis, are active in prospecting for gold in the sands of the mountains east of Aswan. 
Keeping the mosquitoes away
All the villagers of Edwa, there are some 4300 of them, have tested negatively for Malaria, as did random tests carried out in neighbouring villages. The house walls in Edwa were sprayed with mosquito insecticide.
It is customary for the Health Ministry to spray the Egypt Sudan borders along a 500km stretch with anti-mosquito spray twice a year, in April and October when the mosquitoes are known to migrate into Egypt. This is done with the help of the World Heath Organisation. 
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by parasitic protozoans. Commonly, the disease is transmitted by a bite from an infected female Anopheles mosquito, which introduces the organisms from its saliva into a person##s circulatory system. In the blood, the parasites travel to the liver to mature and reproduce. Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever and headache, which in severe cases can progress to coma or death. 
The disease is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions in a broad band around the equator, including much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
The World Health Organization estimates that the disease killed almost a million people in 2013.
Watani International
6 June 2014
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