Health officials report a seventh case of malaria in Southwest Florida
Health officials have confirmed one new case of locally acquired malaria in north Sarasota County this past week, for a total of seven this year.
The new case was listed in the Florida Department of Health’s weekly arbovirus report for July 9-15.
Malaria is not transmitted person-to-person but when a female anopheles mosquito becomes infected after biting an infected person. The locally acquired cases are unusual because a vast majority of malaria cases in the U.S are detected after someone has traveled to another country.
The weekly report also included one case of locally acquired dengue in Miami-Dade, for a total of three in Florida in 2023. Dengue is carried by aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
According to the health department, Manatee and Sarasota remain under a mosquito-borne illness alert. Miami-Dade is also under an alert.
Polk, Orange, Nassau, St. Johns and Walton counties are under a mosquito-borne illness advisory. No other counties are under an advisory or alert.
The CDC says that the first six malaria patients had contracted P. vivax, a strain that typically produces milder symptoms or can even be asymptomatic but still can prove fatal, especially in those who are pregnant and in children.
Officials say they continue to be proactive in the fight against mosquitoes after malaria triggered state and national alerts. That includes ground and aerial spraying.
Residents should take precautions like applying mosquito spray, avoiding areas with high mosquito populations such as retention ponds, and wearing long pants and shirts when possible - especially during sunrise and sunset when mosquitos are most active.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the local malaria cases are the first in the United States since 2003.
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