Malaria-positive mosquitoes found in Florida

Malaria-positive mosquitoes found in Florida

Malaria Mosquitoes Found in Florida and Texas: A Closer Look at the Situation

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Public health authorities are currently investigating cases of malaria in Florida and Texas. Mosquitoes have been gathered for testing in both states to determine the extent of the issue. This recent development comes after the discovery of locally acquired cases of malaria, marking the first instances of transmission within the United States since 2003.

In Florida, specifically Sarasota County, several mosquitoes have tested positive for malaria at a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lab. The local authorities are actively taking measures to combat potential malaria spread by spraying and implementing treatments. So far, three mosquitoes carrying the disease-causing parasite have been found in the same woodlot. However, it is essential to note that the risk of further local spread of malaria remains extremely low nationwide, according to the CDC.

Additionally, the CDC advises healthcare professionals to consider diagnosing malaria in any person with a fever of unknown origin, regardless of international travel history. This cautionary measure is crucial, especially for individuals who have been to areas with recent locally acquired malaria cases. Malaria, caused by the parasite carried by Anopheles mosquitoes, can be found in various regions across the United States.

Although malaria is a major cause of death globally, it is relatively rare in the United States. Most cases reported in the country occur in individuals who have recently returned from overseas travel. Worldwide, approximately 619,000 people lost their lives to malaria in 2021, according to the World Health Organization.

Malaria is transmitted through mosquito bites, as the insects feed on the blood of infected people. The parasite responsible for malaria replicates inside the mosquito and is subsequently transmitted to new hosts when the mosquito feeds again. It’s important to remember that malaria does not spread directly from human to human.

The Texas case related to locally acquired malaria involves an individual who was infected during a visit to Cameron County, the southernmost county in the state. While further suspected cases are not yet known, health departments in both Florida and Texas are currently investigating the situation.

Symptoms of malaria, which can appear weeks after a mosquito bite, include fever, headache, and fatigue. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are vital for positive outcomes. In 2003, the U.S. experienced an outbreak of malaria with extended transmission. However, during that outbreak, no mosquitoes tested by the CDC were found to carry the disease.

This recent occurrence underlines the potential for malaria to resurface within the United States, despite intensive surveillance and local public health measures. Therefore, ongoing monitoring and awareness are crucial to prevent the spread and resurgence of this disease.

Sources:

  • CBS News, June 29, 2023
  • World Health Organization