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CDC Report: U.S. Malaria Cases Reach 40-Year High

Americans remain vulnerable when traveling (October 31)

In 2011, 1,925 malaria cases were reported in the U.S., according to data in the Oct. 31 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This number is the highest since 1971, more than 40 years ago, and represents a 14% increase since 2010. Five people in the U.S. died from malaria or associated complications.

Almost all of the malaria cases reported in the U.S. were acquired overseas. More than two-thirds (69%) of the cases were imported from Africa, and nearly two-thirds (63%) of those were acquired in West Africa. For the first time, India was the country from which the most cases were imported. Cases showed seasonal peaks in January and August.

“Malaria isn’t something many doctors see frequently in the United States thanks to successful malaria elimination efforts in the 1940s,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “The increase in malaria cases reminds us that Americans remain vulnerable and must be vigilant against diseases like malaria because our world is so interconnected by travel.”

Malaria is caused by a parasite transmitted by the bite of an infective female Anopheles mosquito. In 2010, it caused an estimated 219 million cases and 660,000 deaths globally.

Travelers to areas with malaria transmission can prevent the disease by taking steps such as the use of antimalarial drugs, insect repellent, insecticide-treated bed nets, and protective clothing.

Clinicians should consult the CDC Guidelines for Treatment of Malaria and contact the CDC’s Malaria Hotline for case management advice, as needed.

Source: CDC; October 31, 2013.

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