Plasmodium vivax malaria among U.S. forces Korea in the Republic of Korea, 1993-2007

Mil Med. 2009 Apr;174(4):412-8. doi: 10.7205/milmed-d-01-4608.


Malaria is a significant health threat to U.S. combat forces that are deployed to malaria-endemic regions. From 1979, when the Republic of Korea (ROK) was declared malaria free, malaria did not present a health threat to U.S. forces deployed to Korea until the early 1990s. In 1993, a temperate strain of vivax malaria expressing both latent (long prepatent incubation periods of usually 6-18 months after infection) and nonlatent (short prepatent incubation periods < 30 days after infection) disease reemerged near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and once again presented a primary health threat to U.S. military populations in the ROK. Following its reemergence, malaria rates increased dramatically through 1998 and accounted for > 44% of all malaria cases among U.S. Army soldiers from 1997 to 2002. More than 60% of all Korean-acquired malaria among U.S. soldiers was identified as latent malaria. Nearly 80% of all latent malaria attributed to exposure in Korea was diagnosed in the U.S. or other countries where soldiers were deployed. These data illustrate the requirement for a comprehensive malaria education program, especially for those soldiers residing or training in malaria high-risk areas, to inform soldiers and providers of the risk of developing malaria after leaving Korea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Korea / epidemiology
  • Malaria, Vivax / drug therapy
  • Malaria, Vivax / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance
  • United States


  • Antimalarials