Why it matters: Resuming travel could lead to more cases.
The United States eradicated malaria decades ago, but malaria has been eradicated globally. The number of people infected with malaria reaches about 250 million According to the World Health Organization, the majority will be in Africa by 2021. According to the CDC, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States reported about 2,000 malaria cases each year, almost all of them from people who contracted malaria abroad. (Pregnant women can pass the parasite to their children, according to the CDC, and the disease can also be spread through blood transfusions, although such incidents are rare in the United States, the CDC says. 1 transfusion-related case every two years, officials say).
However, when infected people from other countries return to the United States, local mosquitoes can feed on them and transmit the parasite. “Things like this happen,” says Georgetown University biologist Colin Carlson. “We expect that countries that have achieved disease eradication will experience occasional reinfections and a small amount of local transmission.”
Dr Carlson said he does not believe the country is on the brink of a malaria epidemic. However, increased international travel this summer could lead to an increase in the number of imported malaria cases, the CDC noted.
Background: The role of climate change is unknown.
Malaria is most common in temperate climates, and some Anopheles mosquitoes are already expanding their ranges in line with climate change, Dr. Carlson’s recent study found.
But it’s hard to tell whether new cases in the US are linked to climate change. Weather conditions in the southern United States may have increased the likelihood of malaria transmission, but the region was already warm enough for malaria to spread, Dr. Carlson noted.
Still, climate may be contributing to these cases in more subtle ways, perhaps by making the disease more prevalent where Americans travel, he said. As a result, more imported cases may occur, increasing the chances of the parasite spreading into the United States.
“When travelers return from places that are on the front lines of climate change, they are more likely to spread malaria,” says Dr Carlson. “We live in a connected world, and the impacts of climate change in other countries could become health problems for our country.”
Further developments: Authorities plan to monitor more cases.
CDC is working with state health officials to investigate the new case. Authorities are actively monitoring the possibility of further infections and are working to control the local mosquito population, the agency said.
people you can protect yourself Take precautions such as using insect repellent, wearing long pants and long sleeves, and using window screens. The CDC said people planning to travel should research the risk of malaria in the destination and consult a doctor about preventive measures.