PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2012, 12:00am


Hong Kong is not at risk from malaria, according to the latest World Malaria Risk Chart from the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers.

In fact the disease, which is caused by the parasite Plasmodium transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes, has been under control in the city for more than 40 years.

Statistics from the Centre of Health Protection show that cases peaked at 2,000 in 1946; in 2009 there were 23 cases.

But Hongkongers shouldn't be complacent, particularly with our globe-trotting habits. Since the 1970s, most malaria cases have been imported - meaning vigilance needs to be maintained to keep the disease at bay.

Symptoms of malaria include intermittent fever, chills, sweating, headaches, tiredness, poor appetite and muscle pain.

In typical cases, the fever presents itself, subsides for one to three days and then returns in a cyclical pattern.

Complications include anaemia, liver and kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion, coma and death if the disease is not treated promptly.

Earlier this month, The Lancet reported that the most deadly species of malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, is becoming resistant to the frontline treatment for malaria (a drug called artemisinin) on the border of Thailand and Myanmar.

This has increased concern that resistance could now spread to India and Africa, as resistance to other anti-malarial drugs has done before. Eliminating malaria might then prove impossible.

According to the World Malaria Report 2011, there were 266 million probable malaria cases and an estimated 153,000 deaths - mostly children and pregnant women - in 2010.

Precautions, including personal anti-mosquito protective measures and drugs, need to be taken when travelling to endemic areas.

Go to www.iamat.org to plan a healthy trip, and test your knowledge of malaria here.

1. According to the World Health Organisation, how many countries and territories worldwide are considered at risk for malarial infection?

a. more than 50

b. more than 80

c. more than 100 2. Once malaria parasites enter a person's bloodstream, where do they travel to?

2. Once malaria parasites enter a person's bloodstream, where do they travel to?

a. liver

b. kidneys

c. heart

3. What is the incubation period for malarial infection?

a. one week

b. 10-14 days

c. one month

4. The word malaria comes from two medieval Italian words meaning?

a. bad air

b. dirty water

c. breathing problems

Answers: 1. c (106 countries and territories in 2010); 2. a (they grow and multiply in the liver, then enter red blood cells); 3. b; 4. a ('mala aria').