What You Should Know About Malaria In Florida

July 14th, 2023

What You Should Know About Malaria In Florida

Malaria In Florida

According to a health alert issued by officials, Florida and Texas are currently experiencing locally acquired malaria cases, marking the first instance of the mosquito-transmitted disease spreading within the United States in 20 years (CDC, n.d.). Over the past two months, five cases of mosquito-borne malaria have been identified in the country (CDC, n.d.). Four of these cases were detected in the Sarasota area of Florida, while the fifth case was reported in Galveston, Texas (CDC, n.d.). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined that these cases are locally acquired, indicating that the individuals contracted the disease within Florida and Texas rather than acquiring it while traveling abroad (CDC, n.d.).

Malaria cases in the United States are relatively rare, with most cases imported from other countries.  Although Malaria is serious and potentially life-threatening it is treatable using antimalaria medications.  All five US-infected individuals have received treatment and are positively responding to the prescribed therapies (CDC, n.d.). Malaria, although life-threatening, is a curable disease typically transmitted to humans through mosquito bites carrying the malaria parasite (CDC, n.d.). It is worth noting that malaria can also be transmitted through infected blood during transfusions or organ transplants, as well as from a pregnant mother to her fetus (CDC, n.d.).

The symptoms of malaria can vary but typically appear 7 to 30 days after an infected mosquito bites a person. The primary symptoms of malaria include:

Fever: Fever is one of the hallmark symptoms of malaria. It may be intermittent, with fever episodes occurring every 24 to 72 hours, depending on the type of malaria parasite involved.

Chills and sweats: Along with fever, malaria can cause intense chills and shivering followed by profuse sweating.

Headache: Headaches are commonly associated with malaria infection. The severity of the headache can vary.

Fatigue: Malaria can cause extreme tiredness and fatigue, which may persist even after the fever resolves.

Muscle and joint aches: Malaria infection can lead to muscle and joint pain, which can be generalized or localized.

Nausea and vomiting: Some individuals with malaria experience nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Abdominal pain: Malaria can cause abdominal discomfort, including pain and tenderness.

Diarrhea: In some cases, malaria may cause diarrhea.

Anemia: Malaria can lead to anemia due to the destruction of red blood cells.

Jaundice: In severe cases, malaria can cause yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), indicating liver involvement.

It is important to note that these symptoms can overlap with other illnesses, and the presentation of malaria can vary. In some cases, additional symptoms like confusion, seizures, respiratory distress, organ failure, or coma may occur. If you suspect you have malaria or have been in an area where malaria is prevalent, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Malaria is diagnosed through laboratory tests, such as blood smears or rapid diagnostic tests, to confirm the presence of the malaria parasite and identify the species. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified medical provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment of malaria.

Malaria is most prevalent in warm countries, especially tropical climates (CDC, n.d.). Global statistics from the World Health Organization indicate that in 2021, approximately 247 million malaria cases were reported worldwide, resulting in 619,000 deaths (WHO, 2021). Don’t be alarmed. Malaria transmission in the United States is extremely rare, and deaths from malaria within the country are even rarer.

In Florida, vector management primarily falls under the responsibility of mosquito control districts, which have been utilizing helicopters for mosquito population control. This method allows them to cover between 15,000 and 20,000 acres in a single night, a significantly larger area than what can be covered by trucks, which typically manage around 1,000 acres per night (CDC, n.d.). The objective of these efforts is to target and eliminate adult mosquitoes before they can bite an infected individual and transmit the disease to another person (CDC, n.d.).

The incubation period for mosquitoes, from becoming infected to transmitting the disease, is approximately 14 days (CDC, n.d.). Consequently, mosquito control districts aim to reduce the mosquito population every seven to 10 days to prevent further transmission. These measures will continue in Florida until the public health alert is lifted (CDC, n.d.).

Given the increased media coverage regarding the prevalence of malaria, pest management professionals and mosquito management companies may receive inquiries from concerned individuals.

Green Solutions Lawn Care and Pest Control has programs to treat mosquitos on and around your property.  We focus on the "nuisance management" of these pests and can make no claims to prevent disease through our services. Please call us to set up a program.

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (n.d.). CDC Investigates Locally Acquired Malaria Cases in Florida and Texas. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2023/p0517-locally-acquired-malaria.html

World Health Organization (WHO). (2021). World Malaria Report 2021. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240020391

 

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