A cluster of airport malaria in Belgium in 1995

Acta Clin Belg. 1998 Aug;53(4):259-63. doi: 10.1080/17843286.1998.11772033.


In Europe 64 cases of airport malaria have been registered between 1969 and 1996, most of them in France, Switzerland and Belgium. In the summer of 1995 six cases of airport malaria occurred at the International airport of Brussels, Belgium. Of the six patients three were airport employees, three were occasional visitors. One patient died, the diagnosis was made by PCR amplification and DNA sequencing after exhumation. Two different species of Plasmodium were detected, and infections occurred on at least two different floors of the airport. An inquiry revealed that the cabin of airplanes is correctly sprayed, according to WHO recommendations, but that the inside of the hand luggage, the cargo hold, the animal compartment, the wheel bays and container flights remain possible shelters for infected mosquitoes. In a case of fever of unknown origin, airport malaria should be considered in the differential diagnosis, especially during hot summers, and when thrombocytopenia is present. Additional antimosquito measures should be generalised, encompassing highly exposed personnel, container content and handling buildings, animal cages, wheel bays, and the boundary between the sorting and the reception of luggage.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aircraft
  • Animals
  • Aviation*
  • Belgium
  • Culicidae
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / administration & dosage
  • Malaria, Falciparum / etiology*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / transmission
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Plasmodium / classification
  • Plasmodium / genetics
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics
  • Plasmodium falciparum / isolation & purification
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Seasons
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Thrombocytopenia / parasitology
  • Travel
  • World Health Organization


  • Insecticides