Once eradicated from the United States, “locally acquired” malaria has now cropped up in a third state this year, this time in the Maryland suburbs just outside of the nation’s capital. Earlier this year a handful of locally acquired malaria cases were found in Florida and Texas.
One victim was reported hospitalized with a strain different than those in Florida and Texas.
The Baltimore Banner reported on a press briefing by the health department (excerpt):
The Maryland case involves a strain that is different from the strain seen so far in Florida and Texas, and can be more severe, said Dr. David Blythe, director of the Maryland Department of Health’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Outbreak Response Bureau, in a Friday afternoon news conference.
He said its primary symptom is fever, which residents should be on the lookout for. Symptoms usually appear about seven to 30 days after someone is bitten by a mosquito carrying a parasite. It can cause high fever, chills, body aches, diarrhea and vomiting.
The state Department of Agriculture announced emergency mosquito spraying would take place Friday evening starting at 7:30.
The Maryland Department of Health issued a statement Friday afternoon:
The Maryland Department of Health has confirmed and reported a positive case of locally acquired malaria in a Maryland resident who lives in the National Capital Region. The individual was hospitalized and is now recovering. They did not travel recently outside of the United States or to other U.S. states with recent locally acquired malaria cases.
“Malaria was once common in the United States, including in Maryland, but we have not seen a case in Maryland that was not related to travel in over 40 years,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Laura Herrera Scott. “We are taking this very seriously and will work with local and federal health officials to investigate this case.”
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. More than 2,000 cases of malaria are reported annually in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with most cases occurring in people returning from international travel. Maryland typically reports around 200 travel-related malaria cases each year, and the Maryland Department of Health investigates each case for cause and risk.
Symptoms of malaria usually appear 7 to 30 days after an infective bite and include high fever, chills, body aches, diarrhea and vomiting.
“Malaria can be very dangerous and even fatal if it is not treated, but early treatment reduces the chances of complications,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman. “We urge the public to take precautions against mosquito bites, and if you develop symptoms after traveling abroad, seek urgent medical care.”
The risk to the public for locally acquired mosquito-transmitted malaria remains very low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, Marylanders can take these precautions to prevent mosquito bites or travel-related malaria:
Use insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin.
If weather and heat allow, wear loose-fitting, long sleeved clothing.
Keep windows and doors closed or covered with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.
Empty standing water at least once a week to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.
Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.
Before you travel, learn about the health risks and precautions for malaria and other diseases for your destination.
If you are planning to travel abroad, check with your health care provider for current recommendations on prescription medications to prevent malaria.
If you have traveled to an area where malaria transmission occurs more often, and you develop fever, chills, headache, body aches, and fatigue, seek urgent medical care and tell your health care provider that you have traveled.
“NEWS RELEASE: Maryland Department of Agriculture to Conduct Mosquito Spray Following Positive Confirmation of Locally Transmitted Malaria Case; Spraying Planned for Evening of August 18”
NEWS RELEASE 📰: Maryland Department of Agriculture to Conduct Mosquito Spray Following Positive Confirmation of Locally Transmitted Malaria Case; Spraying Planned for Evening of August 18
— Maryland Department of Agriculture (@MdAgDept) August 18, 2023
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has received confirmation of a positive case of locally acquired malaria in a Maryland resident who lives in the National Capital Region. According to the Maryland Department of Health, the individual was hospitalized and is now recovering. They did not travel recently outside of the United States or to other U.S. states with recent locally acquired malaria cases.
“This positive malaria case underscores the importance of being vigilant during mosquito season about personal protection against mosquitoes as well as the importance of continuous monitoring and spraying by the Maryland Department of Agriculture Mosquito Spray Program,” said Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Kevin Atticks. “The quick action of health professionals to identify the case allows MDA to respond rapidly in treating the region to protect against future cases.”
Spraying will occur after 7:30 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, spraying will be rescheduled for the next available evening. Any existing spray exemptions in the area will be temporarily suspended.
MDA Mosquito Control Program personnel will use a permethrin-based solution that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved for use in public health mosquito control programs without posing unreasonable risks to human health. However, out of an abundance of caution, MDA recommends avoiding outdoor activities during spraying.
While not all mosquitoes carry diseases, MDA suggests that residents take precautions to minimize their exposure to mosquito bites. These measures include:
Wear long, loose fitting, light colored clothing
Wear insect repellents according to product labels
Avoid mosquito infested areas during prime periods of activity (between dusk and dawn)
Install, inspect, and repair window and door screens in homes and stables
Regularly clean bird baths and bowls for pet food and water
Remove or empty all water-holding containers
All Marylanders are encouraged to follow MDA’s Twitter feed @MdAgDept that will post unscheduled spray events and other timely information about mosquito control in Maryland. Routine spray program schedules are available by county on the program’s website.