Arkansas reports locally acquired malaria case

Anopheles mosquito

Nathan D. Burkett-Cadena/University of Florida/Flickr cc

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) yesterday reported a locally acquired malaria infection, the fourth state this year to report a local malaria case.

In a press release, the ADH said the patient lives in Saline County, which is located in the central part of the state. The individual had not traveled outside of the country. The state has reported five travel-related malaria cases this year.

In August, Maryland reported its first locally acquired malaria case in four decades, and earlier this year, Florida reported seven cases, all from Sarasota County, and Texas reported a case in a person who had worked outdoors in Cameron County.

Malaria was eliminated from the United States in the 1950s, but Anopheles mosquitoes that can transmit the parasite still exist and have been implicated in sporadic local outbreaks. For example, an outbreak in Florida’s Palm Beach County in 2003 led to eight infections.

Malaria infections in travelers who contract malaria in countries where the disease is still endemic can introduce the parasite to local mosquito populations.

In an August update, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the risk of locally acquired malaria remains very low in the United States. It added that affected states have stepped up their mitigation and surveillance efforts and that the CDC is providing technical assistance to state and local officials.

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