Imported malaria in Portugal: Prevalence of polymorphisms in the anti-malarial drug resistance genes pfmdr1 and pfk13

Debora Serrano, Ana Santos-Reis, Clemente Silva, Ana Dias, Brigite Dias, Cristina Toscano, Cláudia Conceição, Teresa Baptista-Fernandes, Fatima Nogueira

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Malaria is one of the ‘big three’ killer infectious diseases, alongside tuberculosis and HIV. In non-endemic areas, malaria may occur in travelers who have recently been to or visited endemic regions. The number of imported malaria cases in Portugal has increased in recent years, mostly due to the close relationship with the community of Portuguese language countries. Samples were collected from malaria-infected patients attending Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Ocidental (CHLO) or the outpatient clinic of Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical (IHMT-NOVA) between March 2014 and May 2021. Molecular characterization of Plasmodium falciparum pfk13 and pfmdr1 genes was performed. We analyzed 232 imported malaria cases. The majority (68.53%) of the patients came from Angola and only three patients travelled to a non-African country; one to Brazil and two to Indonesia. P. falciparum was diagnosed in 81.47% of the cases, P. malariae in 7.33%, P. ovale 6.47% and 1.72% carried P. vivax. No mutations were detected in pfk13. Regarding pfmdr1, the wild-type haplotype (N86/Y184/D1246) was also the most prevalent (64.71%) and N86/184F/D1246 was detected in 26.47% of the cases. The typical imported malaria case was middle-aged male, traveling from Angola, infected with P. falciparum carrying wild type pfmdr1 and pfk13. Our study highlights the need for constant surveillance of malaria parasites imported into Portugal as an important pillar of public health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2045
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2021


  • CPLP
  • Imported malaria
  • Portugal
  • Travel medicine


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