UNITED STATES: Federal health authorities have raised concerns about the recent cases of malaria transmission occurring within the United States, marking the first instances in two decades where infections have been reported in individuals who did not travel outside the country.
Confirmed transmissions took place between late May and late June in Sarasota County, Florida, and Cameron County, Texas. All affected patients have received treatment and are currently in the process of making a full recovery, with public health experts closely monitoring the situation for any potential new cases.
Although malaria was declared eradicated in the US back in 1951 after being a prevalent disease, the country still sees approximately 2,000 cases each year, all of which were previously associated with travel. However, recent infections have occurred in a small number of individuals who have not traveled abroad.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes that the risk of malaria within the US remains extremely low. Nonetheless, specialists advise Americans to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites. Brian Grimberg, a professor of pathology and global health at Case Western Reserve University, stresses the importance of understanding the risk of malaria even for those who do not travel internationally.
The disease is characterized by symptoms such as fever, headaches, chills, and flu-like illness. Worldwide, there are approximately 240 million malaria infections annually, with 95% of cases occurring in African countries. The CDC has been actively combating malaria within the US, and their efforts have proven effective through the use of DEET pesticides and marsh drainage.
In 2003, eight people in Palm Beach County, Florida, fell ill due to the P. vivax mosquito species, which is less likely to transmit severe forms of the illness.
The CDC has reported five cases between May and June, emphasizing the importance of prompt treatment to prevent relapses. The medications are readily available in the US, and health officials advise individuals to seek testing, diagnosis, and treatment as soon as symptoms arise.
Grimberg underscores that with proper care, recovery from the disease can be swift. The CDC recommends preventive measures such as using insect repellent, installing screens and eliminating standing water sources to reduce the risk of malaria and other mosquito-borne infections.
Travelers are advised to carry mosquito nets or bug spray to minimize insect bites. Public health officials should implement rapid detection, prevention, and control strategies, while hospitals are encouraged to maintain adequate stocks of malaria medications and testing supplies.