Health officials issue statewide advisory after malaria was found in southwest Florida
The Florida Department of Health on Monday issued a statewide “mosquito-borne illness” advisory after four cases of malaria were confirmed in Sarasota County.
Malaria is transmitted through infected mosquitoes.
“Residents throughout the state should take precautions by applying bug spray, avoiding areas with high mosquito populations, and wearing long pants and shirts when possible — especially during sunrise and sunset when mosquitoes are most active,” the advisory said.
“The department continues to work closely with local partners and county mosquito control. Aerial and ground mosquito spraying continues to be conducted in these areas to mitigate the risk of further transmission.”
Monday's advisory did not say when most recent two cases were confirmed, but it said all four people “have been treated and have recovered.”
Local health officials previously said a case was confirmed in the Sarasota-Manatee county area June 21 and another May 26.
Officials didn’t specify where in region the transmissions were reported.
The first two discoveries triggered a mosquito-borne illness alert for those counties, Both were a type of malaria known as P. vivax, which is not as fatal as others, officials said.
All four cases are believed to be locally acquired, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, which expressed concern the developments pose a concern for a potential rise in imported malaria cases with increased international summer travel. A fifth case was also recently confirmed in Texas.
Only bites from infected Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit the parasite that causes the disease to humans. Malaria is not transmitted person to person.
The disease can be treated at hospitals and other health care providers.
Individuals with symptoms of fever, chills, sweats, nausea/vomiting and headache should seek immediate medical attention.
About 2,000 cases of malaria are logged in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC. The last time mosquito-borne malaria occurred in the U.S. was in 2008, when eight cases were identified in Palm Beach County.
Information from NPR and Health News Florida's Rick Mayer was used in this report.
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