Part 6: Malaria in Europe – Does it exist?

Malaria is now largely eradicated in Germany and Europe. This looked different until well into the 19th century. Here the disease was still widespread in coastal areas, but also along the Rhine, Main and Danube. In areas of East Frisia, for example, every second child is said to have been affected in 1826. Even after World War II, malaria was favored by wartime events such as refugee and troop movements, as well as new favorable breeding conditions, such as bomb craters.

Malaria was not eradicated in Europe because of climatic changes, which tended to do the opposite by gradually warming the climate. Rather, human measures, such as draining of wetlands, straightening of rivers, significantly reduced the living conditions of the Anopheles mosquito and the mosquito breeding sites available with it. Then in the middle of the 20th century the Anopheles mosquito was destroyed by the insecticide DDT.

Today malaria is a typical travel disease for Europeans. In recent years, about 1000 malaria cases per year have been registered in Germany. These were all imported cases, i.e. they were acquired after traveling to tropical countries and the infection did not take place in Europe.

At present, it is not possible to say whether malaria will spread in Europe in the future under changed climatic conditions. Due to reduced research in Germany and other countries, there is a lack of meaningful data.