Fifty years ago, Italy was declared a malaria-free country by the World Health Organization (WHO). In remembering this important anniversary, the authors of this paper describe the long journey that led to this goal. In the century following the unification of Italy, malaria was one of the main public health problems. At the end of the 19th century, malaria cases amounted to 2 million, with 15,000-20,000 deaths per year.
The correct identification of mosquito vectors is often hampered by the presence of morphologically indiscernible sibling species. The Maculipennis complex is one of these groups that include both malaria vectors of primary importance and species of low/negligible epidemiological relevance, of which distribution data in Italy are outdated. Our study was aimed at providing an updated distribution of Maculipennis complex in Northern Italy through the sampling and morphological/molecular identification of specimens from five regions.
Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a significant public health problem in returning travelers, and artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) remains the first choice for treatment. Several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the P. falciparum kelch 13 (Pfk13) gene have been associated with artemisinin (ART) resistance. Moreover, the increase in the P. falciparum plasmepsin 2 (Pfpm2) gene copy number was shown to be linked with reduced susceptibility of P. falciparum to piperaquine (PPQ), a partner drug in an ACT regimen. Active molecular surveillance for imported drug-resistant malaria parasites is a pivotal activity to provide adequate chemoprophylaxis and treatment guidelines.
The European region achieved interruption of malaria transmission during the 1970s. Since then, malaria control programs were replaced by surveillance systems in order to prevent possible re-emergence of this disease. Sporadic cases of non-imported malaria were recorded in several European countries in the past decade and locally transmitted outbreaks of Plasmodium vivax, most probably supported by Anopheles sacharovi, have been repeatedly reported from Greece since 2009. The possibility of locally-transmitted malaria has been extensively studied in Italy where the former malaria vector An. labranchiae survived the control campaign which led to malaria elimination. In this study, we present paradigmatic cases that occurred during a 2017 unusual cluster, which caused strong concern in public opinion and were carefully investigated after the implementation of the updated malaria surveillance system.
How could a fascist dictator realize how to control malaria in Italy 80 years ago, when we can’t figure out what to do in Africa today ?
NOTE; He did it in 3 steps: larval source management with larviciding, improved housing and education, and finally medical treatment