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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Local Malaria Transmission Resurfaces in the U.S. after Two Decades

The CDC issued a health caution on Monday noting that there have been at least five cases of malaria in the United States in the last two months, with four of those cases occurring in Florida and one in Texas. Since 2003, this is the first time that locally acquired malaria has been reported in the nation.

The Anopheles mosquito is responsible for spreading the malaria parasite, which was previously widespread throughout the United States. It presents with flu-like symptoms, such as fever and chills, but if ignored it may cause severe illness or even death. Plasmodium vivax, the species responsible for the recent outbreak, typically causes milder symptoms in infected humans.

The United States successfully eliminated malaria decades ago; nevertheless, the World Health Organisation estimates that there were about 250 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2021, with the great majority occurring in Africa. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that before the Covid-19 epidemic, there were around 2,000 annual cases of malaria recorded in the United States. (The parasites may be passed from pregnant mothers to their children, and the sickness can be shared via blood transfusions, but this is very uncommon in the United States, as reported by the Centres for sickness Control and Prevention. The organisation estimates that once every two years, there will be a case in the nation involving a transfusion.

However, local mosquitoes might pick up and spread the parasites when sick travellers come to the United States for a bite. ‘Stuff like this occurs,’ Georgetown University scientist Colin Carlson said. A small degree of local transmission and occasional reintroductions are to be expected, even in a country that has succeeded in eliminating a disease.

Dr. Carlson has shown that certain species of the Anopheles mosquito, which spreads malaria, have already extended their ranges in ways that are compatible with climate change.

However, it is not clear whether or whether the recent instances in the United States are related to climate change. Dr. Carlson pointed out that the climate in the south of the United States was already warm enough for malaria to flourish, but that recent weather patterns may have facilitated its development.

While he acknowledged that environment may have a role in these instances, he suggested that the role may be more complex, such as by increasing the incidence of the illness in countries where Americans often vacation. That may cause an increase in imported cases, which might help the parasites spread across the country.

Dr. Carlson warns that the spread of malaria will be facilitated if tourists return from areas experiencing the worst of climate change. The effects of climate change in one nation may have an effect on public health in another.

The CDC is collaborating with state health departments to learn more about the recent outbreak. The agency said that local mosquito populations are being controlled and that officials are continuously monitoring for new possible cases.

Insect repellent, long sleeves and trousers and window screens are just a few of the measures that may be taken to keep bugs out. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that travellers learn about the prevalence of malaria in their intended locations and discuss preventative measures with their physicians.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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