Greece bans blood donations in 12 districts for malaria fears

Twelve districts of Greece have banned blood donations because of malaria, with four cases this year contracted domestically, local media report.

In the 61 other cases recorded, the sufferers became infected on the Indian subcontinent and African states, where the disease is endemic.

The districts affected stretch from the Peloponnese to Thessaloniki.

Domestic cases were first reported four years ago – nearly four decades after the disease was wiped out in Greece.

Budget cuts saw municipal spraying schemes to combat mosquito-borne diseases being cut back.

What is malaria?

Malaria is caused by a parasite called plasmodium which initially hides in the liver before going into the bloodstream and infecting the red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body.

The parasites breed and burst out of red blood cells every 48 to 72 hours and each eruption of parasites is accompanied by a bout of fever, chills and sweating.

The parasites are spread from person to person by mosquitoes when they drink blood.

A single bite from the high-pitched whining insects is all it can take to become infected.

Source: BBC