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US health alert over malaria cases

Posted on the 5th July 2023

Malaria in USA

The first cases of malaria in the USA in over two decades have been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While the risk of catching malaria in the US remains extremely low, a total of five patients - four in Florida, and one in Texas – have received treatment for the potentially fatal mosquito-borne disease in the last eight weeks.

The state of Florida said that its first case was diagnosed on May 26 in Sarasota County, while officials in Texas reported on June 23 that a Texas resident who worked outdoors in Cameron County had been diagnosed with the disease.

Malaria is caused by five species of a parasite carried by certain female mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle pain and fatigue. Nausea, diarrhea and vomiting may also appear.

Malaria can cause life-threatening damage, including kidney failure, seizures, and coma.

The CDC said that anyone with symptoms should be “urgently evaluated.”

Meanwhile, the state of Florida has issued a mosquito-borne illness alert and recommended that residents drain standing pools of water, make sure their window screens do not have holes in them, and use insecticides that contain DEET to repel mosquitoes.

Long-sleeved shirts and trousers have been recommended when mosquitoes are present.

The state of Texas has also issued a health alert, advising clinicians to routinely obtain a travel history to determine if a patient with symptoms of malaria has spent time outdoors and been bitten by mosquitoes in an area with malaria activity.

Doctors in the US are now being advised to consider malaria in any person with an unexplained fever, regardless of international travel history, particularly if they have visited or live in the affected areas of Florida or Texas.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Ghana had become the first country to approve a malaria vaccine described as a ‘world-changer’ by scientists.

Malaria remains a major threat in parts of Africa where it kills around 600,000 people per year, the vast majority of whom are children under five.

Related: Malaria milestone as new vaccine approved

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