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Malaria, Epidemiology, Endemicity
Malaria infection is still to be considered a major public health problem in those 106 countries where the risk of contracting the infection with one or more of the Plasmodium species exists. According to estimates from the World Health Organization, over 200 million cases and about 655.000 deaths have occurred in 2010. Estimating the real health and social burden of the disease is a difficult task, because many of the malaria endemic countries have limited diagnostic resources, especially in rural settings where conditions with similar clinical picture may coexist in the same geographical areas. Moreover, asymptomatic parasitaemia may occur in high transmission areas after childhood, when anti-malaria semi-immunity occurs. Malaria endemicity and control activities are very complex issues, that are influenced by factors related to the host, to the parasite, to the vector, to the environment and to the health system capacity to fully implement available anti-malaria weapons such as rapid diagnostic tests, artemisinin-based combination treatment, impregnated bed-nets and insecticide residual spraying while waiting for an effective vaccine to be made available.