What is Malaria?
Malaria is a disease that is caused by a parasite that is spread to humans through infected mosquitos. It is a disease that is typically only a worry for people who travel overseas to countries where the transmission of the disease is prevalent.
Over the past few months there have been five cases of malaria that have been diagnosed within the US borders in people who have not traveled outside of the country. This is leading researchers to believe that these may be the first transmission of the mosquito-born disease within the nation’s borders in decades.
Malaria outbreaks were common in the United States into the 20th century but the disease stopped being a major public health issue in the late 1940s, before it was eradicated in 1951 per the CDC resources.
First US Transmitted Cases of Malaria in Decades
Four people in Sarasota County, Florida, and one in Cameron County, Texas, were confirmed as having been infected between late May and late June through local transmission. The cases are not believed to be linked. All of the people diagnosed have gotten treatment and are recovering as health officials watch for additional cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated.
The majority of the 2000 diagnosed cases of malaria for US residents each year have usually been in people who have traveled internationally to regions where the disease is a threat.
The risk of getting malaria in the United States “remains extremely low,” the CDC said. Still, experts said Americans should be aware of the possibility and take steps to prevent mosquito bites.
Malaria is treated using medication that is widely available in the United States. Health officials advise that people who suspect they have it get evaluated, diagnosed and treated soon after symptoms arise. Symptoms can include fever, headaches, muscle pain, fatigue, chills and flu-like symptoms. Early detection is key to treating the illness. If the disease is properly treated, you can recover quickly.
To lower the risk of getting malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, the CDC is urging the public to apply insect repellent (containing DEET, IR3535 or Icaridin) after or around dusk, use screens on windows and doors, and drain items that hold water — such as tires, bird baths, buckets and trash containers — often.
Travellers to malaria endemic areas should consult their doctor several weeks before departure. Overseas travelers should pack bug spray, stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens or sleep under a mosquito net. Doctors may also prescribe antimalarial medicines such as atovaquone or doxycycline that can be taken to reduce risk of malaria infection.
As a frequent traveler to countries with high malaria transmission rates, I always take anti- malarial drugs as a precaution and have had good luck with both of the medications mentioned above. Every individual should always consult their doctor before traveling to affected countries ensure that you have the correct precautions for the region and the proper vaccinations recommended and required for the countries you are visiting.