Buzzing Back: Malaria makes surprise comeback in US after 20-year hiatus

Picture courtesy of Erik Karits, Unsplash

US health officials announced malaria has returned to America for the first time in 20 years after five cases were brought to their attention this week. These victims were found in Florida and Texas, prompting close scrutiny by US health officials.

The five patients were discovered over the past two months. Four of them were in Florida’s Sarasota County, with the first found on May 26. The final patient was discovered in Texas’s Cameron County on June 23. It is reported that their profession meant they were often outside.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that malaria is a medical emergency. As such, anyone experiencing symptoms must urgently seek consultation from a doctor. However, the CDC also confirmed that the risk of a malaria outbreak within the US remains low. The predominant source of infection is travellers returning from outside the country, with 95% of cases originating from Africa.

The report goes on to describe malaria as being caused by a plasmodium parasite, of which five strains exist. The carriers are mosquitoes of the Anopheles species. The symptoms for an infected person would be fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. If the condition worsens, they may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Without immediate medical attention, the disease can lead to kidney failure, seizures, coma, and even death, reported KhaoSod.

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In response, the government of Florida issued public health warnings about mosquito-borne diseases and advised the public to destroy stagnant water sources, ensure the condition of window screens, and use mosquito repellants with DEET. They additionally recommended appropriate dressing in mosquito-infested areas such as wearing long trousers and long-sleeved shirts.

Similarly, Texas conveyed health risks, urging clinics and hospitals to be vigilant about checking the travel history of patients, particularly those exhibiting symptoms similar to malaria. The intent is to continuously stay guarded.

“The symptomatology of malaria is not specific and early stages can mimic other prevalent conditions like influenza, which could lead to misdiagnosis. Therefore, a travel history should be obtained from every patient where doctors are considering a diagnosis of malaria,” stated the CDC.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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