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2 more cases of locally acquired malaria reported in Florida, making 6

It had been 20 years with no locally transmitted malaria cases in the U.S. — until the end of last month.
A mosquito is shown. on skin.
Posted at 5:39 PM, Jul 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-07 17:39:56-04

Two more cases of locally acquired malaria have been reported in Florida, bringing the total number of cases in the state to six, according to the Florida Department of Health.

The two new cases were found in Sarasota County during the week of June 25 to July 1, according to the department's recent report.

On June 26, the FDOH issued a statewide mosquito-borne illnesses advisory after four malaria cases were first reported in Sarasota County. All individuals were treated and have recovered.

Around the same time, on June 23, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported a case of malaria in one of its residents who hadn't traveled outside of the state.

The cases in Florida and Texas — though not related to each other, according to the CDC — represent the nation's first locally acquired malaria infections in the last 20 years. The last cases were in 2003, when eight people got sick in Palm Beach County.

Malaria is a serious and potentially fatal disease spread through infected mosquitoes, though according to the CDC, the Anopheles mosquito vectors can transmit malaria if they feed on an infected person.

But, the CDC says, the risk of locally transmitted malaria remains extremely low in the U.S.

Almost all cases of malaria in the country have been imported, such as in people traveling from countries with malaria transmission, and the CDC says 95% of the 240 million annual cases of malaria occur in Africa. Risk of infection is higher in climates where the mosquitoes can survive for most of the year.

Florida's statewide alert has expired, according to a map from the department. However, two counties — Polk and Orange — remain under the mosquito-borne illness advisory, and three — Sarasota, Manatee and Miami-Dade — are under a mosquito-borne illness alert.

Those under alert and advisory are asked to take precautions. Those include applying bug spray, avoiding high mosquito populated areas, wearing long sleeves and pants when possible and remembering to "Drain and Cover." That means draining standing water from gutters, pool covers, garbage cans and more to try to halt multiplying mosquitoes. And it means covering doors and windows with screens and covering your skin with clothes or repellent to keep the bugs out.

Besides these precautions, watch out for any symptoms related to malaria. See a doctor if you're experiencing any of the most common symptoms, including fever, chills, sweats, headache and nausea and vomiting.

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