For the first time since 2003, there are cases of Malaria in the United States. All five known cases were acquired through local transmission.
According to a health alert issued Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were four cases detected in Florida and one in Texas.
The Associated Press reported that Malaria is caused by a parasite that spreads through mosquito bites. Infected people can suffer fever, chills, and flu-like illness. If it goes untreated, infected people can develop severe complications and die. The largest death toll in recent years has been seen in children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Malaria can be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites. “Drain and Cover” is a method currently being used in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Basically, you should drain standing water to keep mosquitoes from multiplying and you should cover your skin with clothing or bug repellent and cover doors and windows:
- Drain water from garbage cans, gutters, pool covers, toys, flower pots, or anywhere else where sprinklers and rainwater have been collected
- Discard old tires, bottles, cans, pots, pans, broken appliances and other items not being used
- Empty and clean birdbaths and pet water bowls at least once or twice a week
- Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps
- Maintain swimming pools and keep them appropriately chlorinated
- Wear socks, shoes, and long pants with long sleeves (especially when working in areas where mosquitoes are present)
- Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing
- Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house
Malaria is not transmitted from person to person. Infected Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit malaria to humans and they must have been infected through a previous blood meal taken from an infected person, the CDC said.
Health officials have started warning doctors, especially those in southern states where the weather is more friendly to the tropical mosquito that spreads malaria, to be aware of the possibility of infection. Doctors also should consider figuring out how to access the IV drug that is the first-line treatment for severe malaria in the United States, the CDC said.
About 2,000 U.S. cases of malaria are diagnosed each year. The vast majority of those cases are found in travelers coming from countries where malaria commonly spreads.
In 2021, the World Health Organization recommenced the RTS, S malaria vaccine for broader use among children in sub-Saharan Africa and other areas with moderate to high malaria transmission. This marks the first vaccine for malaria. The real question, is how does a “vaccine” work on a parasite?