Malaria infections in travellers returning from the Indian-subcontinent to the UK increased by 22% in 2011, according to new figures released by the UK Health Protection Agency on World Malaria Day.
The number of cases jumped from 274 in 2010 to 334 in 2011, despite a 5% decrease in the total number of malaria infections reported in the UK in 2011.
The increase in infections from the Indian-subcontinent is largely due to a doubling of cases of Plasmodium vivax malaria acquired in Pakistan, says the HPA.
The most common type of malaria reported in the UK is the potentially fatal falciparum malaria, which is usually acquired in West Africa, but in 2011, a quarter of cases (416) were caused by vivax malaria, which is more commonly acquired in India and Pakistan.
In 2011, eight deaths from malaria were reported, six from falciparum malaria acquired in Africa and two from vivax malaria acquired in India.
The news from the HPA comes exactly two weeks after it was reported that a strain of malaria which is resistant to the Chinese drug artemisinin has emerged and is rapidly increasing along the border between Thailand and Burma.
Efforts to contain artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in Western Cambodia have been underway since 2009, but new data published in the Lancet Medical Journal confirms that the most deadly species of malaria parasites are infecting patients 500 miles away.
Image: The number of malaria infections aquired in the Indian-subconinent and brought back to the UK jumped from 274 in 2010 to 334 in 2011.