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Malaria returns to the United States 20 years later

In the last two months, authorities have detected four cases of mosquito-borne malaria in Florida and another in Texas.

Un moquito anopheles pica a un humano.

( Wikimedia Commons / CDC )

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Malaria has returned to the United States. Twenty years after the last cases were reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that at least five people have been infected with malaria. Four of them in Sarasota, Florida, and another one in Cameron, Texas.

Malaria infections are caused by the bite of a mosquito that carries the disease. The Florida Department of Health issued a statement assuring that the four infected in Sarasota were treated correctly and have now recovered. In the same communiqué, they are asking the population to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

The CDC, for its part, wanted to calm things down. According to the agency, these are simply "sporadic" cases of malaria. The federal agency believes that these cases must have been "imported, usually by people traveling to countries where malaria is endemic." However, the CDC has not ruled out that the malaria infection was local.

The disease is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito, which may have its habitat in some areas of the United States, especially the Southeast during the warmer months. The last malaria episode occurred in 2003, when eight cases were reported in Palm Beach, Florida. Until 1947 it was a relatively common disease in the United States. A state fumigation campaign put an end to this situation.

Federal authorities said they are working with State authorities in Florida to control infections and prevent future malaria transmissions. Fumigations were carried out in the residential area where the affected people live. The agencies also reportedly contacted local medical centers to provide further guidelines and directions.

The list of symptoms of malaria includes fever, chills, sweats, nausea or vomiting and headache. The authorities advise visiting a medical center as soon as possible if these symptoms are detected. The best way to avoid contracting malaria is to avoid mosquito bites. For this purpose, it is necessary to use insecticide, repellent and wear appropriate clothing.