Imported malaria: a 20-year retrospective study from a tertiary public hospital in Brussels, Belgium

M Leys, E Bottieau, J Rebolledo, C Martin

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Malaria continues to cause a significant number of infections in non-endemic regions. In this paper, we describe the epidemiological trend and morbidity of imported malaria diagnosed in a tertiary hospital in Brussels.

We conducted a retrospective study describing a cohort of malaria episodes (in- and outpatients) at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Saint-Pierre from 1998 to 2017. Epidemiological and clinical data were collected by reviewing medical files.

A total of 1011 malaria episodes were analyzed. Median age at diagnosis was 35 years, and 66 % of patients were men (672/1011). Malaria cases significantly increased over the two decades (from 17 in 1998 to 79 in 2017). Plasmodium falciparum malaria was most often diagnosed (846/935, 89 %), primarily from Central (530/935, 57 %) and West Africa (324/935, 35 %). Many cases (383/764, 50 %) were diagnosed in patients “visiting friends and relatives”. HIV-infected and other immunocompromised patients were significantly more likely to present with severe malaria (at least one severity criteria as defined by the WHO) compared to other patients (24/57, 42 % vs 138/732, 19 %, p < 0.01 and 15/21, 71 % vs 147/767, 19 %, p < 0.001). Severe malaria was diagnosed in 16.9 % and the mortality rate was low (5/1011, 0.5 %).

Imported malaria increased over the years with a large, albeit stable number of cases diagnosed in patients visiting friends and relatives. These findings, along with the high rate of severe malaria in HIV and immunocompromised patients, underscore an urgent need for strengthened malaria surveillance and targeted preventive interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104856
JournalInfectious Diseases Now
Issue number3
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Artemisinin-derived treatments
  • Imported malaria
  • Non-endemic country
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Visiting friends and relatives


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