Flemish district clear of exotic mosquitoes after couple’s ‘exceptional’ malaria death
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Flemish district clear of exotic mosquitoes after couple’s ‘exceptional’ malaria death

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Researchers and health officials in Flanders have said that the area where a couple died from a locally-contracted malaria infection is clear of mosquitoes carrying the disease.

No exotic malaria mosquitoes nor native malaria-carrying mosquitoes found in a neighbourhood in the town of Kampenhout, in the Flemish Brabant, just north of Zaventem airport, where the elderly couple lived.

The results, reported by the Flemish Agency for Care and Health said on Wednesday, support the hypothesis that the mosquito that infected the elderly couple was imported to the country by airplane.

Researchers with Antwerp’s Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITG), who led the field study, said that the risk of local malaria transmission in Belgium remained small.

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“These results are therefore reassuring and support our hypothesis that the Kampenhout couple died after being bitten by a single mosquito introduced via the airports,” the researchers said.

“We can conclude that the risk of local spread of malaria in our country is still extremely small,” the scientists said following their inquiry into the “exceptional” infection which led to the couple’s death.

ITG experts searched the couple’s home and its immediate surroundings and scoured hundreds of typical breeding grounds, such as tree hollows, swamps, sewers, ponds and rainwater deposits, spread throughout a buffer zone of 500 metres, for mosquitoes of the exotic Anopheles type.

Their search led them to discover two Anopheles mosquitos, one adult and one larva, in the couple’s garage. The adult insect was tested for the parasite malaria but was found not be carrying it, the ITG said in a press release.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times