Several cases of malaria have recently been confirmed in the United States, including four in Florida and one in Texas. As NBC News reports, the Texas and Florida cases can't be traced to sources outside the U.S. - something that hasn't occurred since 2003.
That means that even U.S. residents who do not travel to regions where malaria is far more common than in North America could be at risk. As the New York Times explains, "when people who are infected in other countries return to the United States, local mosquitoes can feed on them and pass the parasites [that cause malaria] on." It is believed that this occurred in these five cases in which people who had not been traveling overseas were infected.
In response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Health Alert Network (HAN) Health Advisory on June 26, 2023, to alert the public of these U.S. malaria cases, which had all been contracted within two months prior to the alert's release. The CDC also noted the "concern for a potential rise in imported malaria cases associated with increased international travel in summer 2023."
Amid these concerns, MosquitoNix® is providing answers to some commonly asked questions about malaria, from the symptoms of the disease to ways you can help protect yourself and your family.
What Is Malaria?
Malaria is a potentially deadly disease most prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, among several other regions. According to the CDC, malaria symptoms can include headache, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, stomach upset and sometimes anemia or jaundice. If not treated quickly, sufferers can experience changes to their mental state, seizures, respiratory distress, renal failure, coma and death. Anyone with reason to believe they may have contracted malaria should seek medical evaluation and treatment immediately.
Is Malaria Contagious?
Malaria is not contagious, but it is infectious. How is malaria transmitted? Primarily through mosquitos. Specifically, a female Anopheles mosquito that's infected with any one of five protozoan parasites (Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae, P. ovale or P. knowlesi) can infect a human that it bites. There are other, less common causes of malaria; humans can pass the disease to one another through contaminated needles or blood transfusions, and a pregnant woman can pass the infection to her child.
Is There a Malaria Vaccine?
In 2021, the first malaria vaccine, known as the RTS,S vaccine, was recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for use on children in regions with moderate to high rates of P. falciparum malaria transmission (with P. falciparum being the deadliest type of protozoan parasite, and children being the most at risk of severe infection).
Other types of malaria vaccines have since been developed, including a three-dose version called Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite vaccine (PfSPZ), which demonstrated safety and efficacy in a 2022 study. Then, in April 2023, Ghana and Nigeria became the first two countries to back the newly developed R21 vaccine. However, research, testing, approval processes and questions about funding are still being addressed for these and other malaria vaccine candidates.
How Can I Protect My Family?
You can help keep yourself and your family safe from malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses by wearing insect repellent and protective clothing outdoors. The CDC offers recommendations for specific types of mosquito repellent to use, as well as other tips.
In addition, MosquitoNix offers a wide range of effective and affordable mosquito-control treatments for your residential or commercial property, from our mosquito misting systems to our one-step QuickNix® fogging treatments. Contact our experts today to learn more and determine which option is right for you.
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