In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, 1,925 malaria cases were reported in the U.S., the highest number since 1971 and a 14% increase over 2010, according to a CDC report.
The cases resulted in five deaths, according to a report in a supplement to the Nov. 1 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Almost all the malaria cases reported in the U.S. were acquired overseas, including 63% in West Africa. Cases showed seasonal peaks in January and August.
Malaria isnt something many doctors see frequently in the United States thanks to successful malaria elimination efforts in the 1940s, CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release. 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 660,000 deaths and 219 million cases globally. The signs and symptoms of malaria illness are varied, but the majority of patients have fever. Other common symptoms include headache, back pain, chills, increased sweating, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and cough. Untreated infections can progress rapidly to coma, kidney failure, respiratory distress and death.
Malaria is preventable, Laurence Slutsker, MD, MPH, director of the CDCs Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, said in the news release. We have made great strides in preventing and controlling malaria around the world. However, malaria persists in many areas and the use of appropriate prevention measures by travelers is still very important.
Travelers to areas with malaria transmission can prevent the disease by taking steps such as using antimalarial drugs, insect repellent, insecticide-treated bed nets and protective clothing, according to the CDC.
Travelers in the U.S. should consult a healthcare provider before international travel to receive needed information, medications and vaccines. Travelers with symptoms of malaria, such as fever, headaches and other flu-like symptoms while abroad or upon returning home, should immediately seek diagnosis and treatment from a healthcare provider.
Resources for clinicians: www.cdc.gov/malaria/diagnosis_treatment