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About Sickkids
About SickKids

April 7, 2014

World Health Day emphasizes: Small bite. Big Threat.

By Rebecca Milec

Every year on World Health Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights a particular global public health problem. This year the focus is on vector-borne diseases like malaria.

More than half the world’s population is at risk of vector-borne diseases, including malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis and yellow fever. Typically, the poorest people in the world are the worst affected. However, with environmental change and increased migration of people and goods around the world, a growing number of people are at risk.

At SickKids Dr. Andrea Evans, resident in the Department of Paediatrics, and Dr. Shaun Morris, clinician-scientist in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Centre for Global Child Health, have been conducting research on Canadian cases of malaria.

Although malaria is more common in developing countries, it is being transported to Canada through international travel and immigration. Evans and colleagues have studied more than 100 cases of malaria at SickKids over the past 16 years in attempt to understand imported malaria in children – the incidence, spread and control of the disease, as well as risk factors, clinical care and outcomes of childhood malaria in Toronto.

Vector-borne diseases are transmitted to humans by insects. Mosquitoes, flies, ticks, bugs and freshwater snails in affected areas can spread diseases that cause serious illness and death. Travel, trade and migration increase the incidence, however, simple protection measures such as sleeping under a bednet, wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants, and using insect repellent can reduce the risk.

Learn more about vector-borne diseases.  

Learn more about World Health Day

WHO Infographic