Maryland reports first local malaria case in 4 decades

Anopheles mosquito

CDC / James Gathany

Maryland's health department has reported a locally acquired malaria case in a patient with a history of travel outside the country or to other states that have reported local cases this summer.

In an August 18 statement, the Maryland Department of Health said the patient lives in the North Capital region, which includes Frederick, Prince George's, Montgomery, and Howard counties near Washington, DC.

The patient was hospitalized and is recovering.

Laura Herrera Scott, MD, Maryland's health secretary, said malaria was once common in the United States, including Maryland, but the state hasn't recorded a locally acquired case in more than 40 years. "We are taking this very seriously and will work with local and federal health officials to investigate this case."

In mid-June, Florida reported two local malaria cases, which were followed by a report of a local case from Texas, the state's first since 1994. The reports prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a malaria advisory noting that the cases weren't connected and involved Plasmodium vivax, the parasite that is the most frequent cause of malaria.

Florida has reported seven local malaria cases this summer, all from Sarasota County. Illness onsets for five patients were in June, with symptoms beginning in May for one patient and in July for another.

The CDC had warned that the risk of locally acquired malaria cases was low for most of the country but is higher in locations where Anopheles mosquitos survive most of the year and where travelers from malaria-affected counties are found.

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