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Mining-Associated Malaria Epidemics

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  • 1 Australian Defence Force Infectious Disease and Malaria Institute, Enoggera, Australia;
  • | 2 University of Queensland, School of Public Health, Brisbane, Australia;
  • | 3 Independent Consultant, Boston, Massachusetts

ABSTRACT.

Tropical alluvial gold and gem miners are often an especially at-risk population for malaria infection. Geographical areas of mining-associated malaria epidemics in the recent past include Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar); the Amazon basin (Brazil, French Guyana, Suriname, Columbia, and Peru); and tropical Africa. Mobile populations of young adult men engaged in the hard labor of mining may experience severe malaria especially if they lack preexisting immunity and are irregularly consuming antimalarial drugs. Particular problems occur because much of this informal mining activity is illegal and done in isolated areas without access to health services and with evidence of emerging antimalarial drug resistance. Concentrating vulnerable populations in an ecologically disturbed landscape is often conducive to epidemics, which can then spread as these highly mobile workers return to their homes. Mining-associated malaria endangers malaria elimination efforts and miners need to be addressed as a group of particular concern.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to G. Dennis Shanks, ADF Malaria and Infectious Disease Institute, Weary Dunlop Dr., Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, Queensland 4051, Australia. E-mail: dennis.shanks@defence.gov.au

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Australian Defence Force or the US Department of Defence.

Authors’ addresses: G. Dennis Shanks, Australian Defence Force Infectious Disease and Malaria Institute, Enoggera, Australia, and University of Queensland, School of Public Health, Brisbane, Australia, E-mail: dennis.shanks@defence.gov.au. Chansuda Wongsrichanalai, Independent Consultant, Boston, MA, E-mail: dr.chansuda@gmail.com.

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