Malaria Cases on Rise in Parts of America in First Locally Acquired Infections in US in 20 Years

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The World Health Organization estimates the disease killed 619,000 people worldwide in 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday the return of locally acquired cases of malaria in parts of Florida and Texas. This marks the first time in 20 years this has happened in America.  

Locally acquired cases means the infections were not linked to foreign travel and appear to have been transmitted by mosquitoes in the U.S. carrying the parasite, CBS News reported.

Currently, there have been four locally acquired cases of malaria in Florida and one in Texas within the last two months, CBS News reported. There's no evidence suggesting the cases in the two states are connected, CDC reported.

"Malaria is a medical emergency and should be treated accordingly," the CDC wrote in a Health Alert Network Health Advisory. "Patients suspected of having malaria should be urgently evaluated in a facility that is able to provide rapid diagnosis and treatment, within 24 hours of presentation."

The last time local malaria has been detected in America was 2003, when there were eight cases identified in Palm Beach County, Florida, according to CBS News.

The new cases in Florida were identified in Sarasota County, the state's Department of Health said. Officials in the state issued a statewide mosquito-borne illness advisory. All four individuals who caught the illness in the state have been treated and have recovered, CBS News reported.

Due to the one case being found in Texas as well, a health advisory has also been issued in the Lone Star State, CBS News reported.

The CDC defines malaria as “a serious and potentially fatal disease transmitted through the bite of an infective female anopheline mosquito. Though rare, malaria can also be transmitted congenitally from mother to fetus or to the neonate at birth, through blood transfusion or organ transplantation, or through unsafe needle-sharing practices.”

Worldwide, more than 240 million cases of malaria occur each year with 95 percent of them in Africa, according to the CDC.

Almost all cases of malaria in the United States are imported and occur in people traveling from countries with malaria transmission, many from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, CDC says.

The World Health Organization estimates the disease killed 619,000 people worldwide in 2021.

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