Health officials believe that the malaria that has been identified in at least 4 Floridians and 1 Texan must have been caught close to their homes, as none of the infected individuals has ever left the country or their respective states.
About 2,000 Americans get malaria each year, but almost invariably as a result of having traveled to an endemic region, where they were bitten by an infected mosquito, and then developed symptoms upon returning home.
Malaria that is obtained locally is highly unusual. It spreads when a mosquito in the United States bites a person who has recently returned from an endemic region and has the virus in their blood. The bug then bites another person, infecting them. In the United States, this has not happened since 2003.
Worldwide, there are around 247 million cases of malaria each year, with mosquitoes serving as mere vectors in each case.
The disease’s natural host is humans, and mosquitoes spread it from one human to another.
The CDC reports that all five persons who were diagnosed in Sarasota County, on Florida’s west coast, and Cameron County, in Texas’s extreme southern tip, have been treated and are on the mend.
Mosquitoes have been captured and examined in both regions, and insecticide is being sprayed by mosquito control districts to reduce mosquito numbers.
Types of Malaria Parasites
Only identifying the parasite species responsible for these outbreaks is good news. All five malaria parasite species in the genus Plasmodium affect red blood cells. P. vivax, which is more common than P. falciparum but less dangerous, caused these latest occurrences.
Vivax causes severe sickness and has an evolutionary strategy Falciparum lacks. The virus can remain latent in a person’s liver and bloodstream until it reactivates, so even if they feel good, they may not realize they are a risk to others.
Due to dengue, Zika, and West Nile virus, Americans are considering how climate change affects mosquito-borne diseases.
Aedes aegypti, which spreads dengue and Zika, and Culex species, which spread West Nile, may thrive in these areas as climate change brings more violent storms and warmer nights.