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Malaria death of girl in northern Italy


A four-year-old Italian girl has died of cerebral malaria in northern Italy, a region believed to be free of the disease.

Sofia Zago died in Brescia on 3 September, after being rushed to hospital with a high fever the day before.

Italy is free of the Anopheles mosquito that carries cerebral malaria, the deadliest form of the blood disease. However, after heatwaves in August, some fear that it might have reached Italy.

Zago had been on holiday with her parents at Bibione, an Adriatic resort near Venice.

Trento, where the girl’s malaria was diagnosed, lies within the Trentino region in the foothills of the Alps.

Dr Claudio Paternoster, an infectious diseases specialist at Trento’s Santa Chiara Hospital, said: “It’s the first time in my 30-year career that I’ve seen a case of malaria originating in Trentino.”

Since the 1950s, Italy has not had a malaria problem because mosquito-infested marshes were drained.

There is speculation that Zago might have caught malaria from one of two children treated for it at the Trento hospital after 15 August. They had caught it in Africa and recovered.

Zago had undergone treatment there for child diabetes and there was a break before her emergency readmission to the hospital at the weekend.

A Trentino health official, Paolo Bordon, said she had not been in the same ward as the other two children. She had not had a blood transfusion, he added, stressing that the treatments for malaria and diabetes were completely different.

The Plasmodium Falciparum parasite carried by the Anopheles mosquito can kill a human within 24 hours.

Pan European Networks Ltd