Roundup: U.S. records more homegrown malaria cases for first time in 20 years-Xinhua

Roundup: U.S. records more homegrown malaria cases for first time in 20 years

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-10-07 04:47:30

by Xinhua writer Tan Jingjing

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- The United States has identified at least 10 locally acquired malaria cases, the first time in 20 years since the highly infectious disease was declared elimination from the country.

The U.S. state of Arkansas identified its first locally acquired malaria case this week, marking the fourth U.S. state that has reported locally acquired cases of one of the world's most dangerous infectious diseases following Florida, Texas and Maryland.

The Arkansas Department of Health identified the locally acquired malaria case in an Arkansas resident, who resides in Saline County and has not traveled out of the country.

This is the only known locally acquired case of malaria in Arkansas.

So far this year, five additional malaria cases have been reported in Arkansas, but all were acquired outside of the country, according to the state health department.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported seven cases of locally acquired malaria in Florida, one case in Texas, and one case in Maryland.

Malaria is a serious and potentially fatal disease transmitted through the bite of an infective female anopheline mosquito. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Left untreated, they may develop severe complications and die, according to CDC.

The malaria disease was endemic in the United States until the 1950s. In 1951, malaria was considered eliminated from the country.

For the first time in 20 years, the United States has recorded homegrown malaria cases, said a report of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Most malaria cases in the United States are imported and occur in people traveling from countries with malaria transmission, many from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, according to CDC.

However, locally acquired mosquito-transmitted malaria cases can occur, as anopheles mosquito vectors exist throughout the United States, said CDC.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 2,000 cases of mostly travel-related malaria were diagnosed in the United States each year. Approximately 300 people experienced severe disease, and 5 to 10 people with malaria died yearly, according to CDC.

The risk of locally acquired malaria is very low in the United States, said CDC.

Malaria experts said this handful of cases is no cause for panic - catching malaria in the United States is still highly unlikely. But they also underscored that if malaria and other diseases are re-emerging, or emerging in places where they have not previously been, it is a cause for concern.