Malaria in the US: A Mayo Clinic expert offers insight, tips on prevention

Malaria, a extreme and doubtlessly deadly illness most frequently attributable to the chunk of an contaminated mosquito, has been reported in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a health advisory as a result of there have been situations of individuals getting contaminated with Plasmodium vivax malaria in Florida and Texas, though they hadn’t traveled outdoors the nation. Malaria doesn’t unfold from person to person.

“Malaria is attributable to parasites in the genus Plasmodium, which might be normally injected into folks by the chunk of a mosquito,” says Dr. Bobbi Pritt, director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Pritt says most individuals grow to be contaminated with Plasmodium parasites by the chunk of an contaminated Anopheles species mosquito.

Plasmodium falciparum is the deadliest of the Plasmodium parasites. But often, Plasmodium vivax also can trigger human fatalities, and all of the malaria species could cause fairly extreme illness. Malaria is normally transmitted by the chunk of an contaminated Anopheles feminine mosquito. The parasite is injected into the bloodstream by the mosquito’s chunk when she takes a blood meal. Less generally, folks can get contaminated with malaria by a transfusion receipt of an contaminated blood product or organ donation by receipt of an contaminated organ,” she says.

The head of an Anopheles gambiae mosquito, below a magnification of 114X, courtesy: CDC

These parasites invade crimson blood cells, resulting in fever, chills, body aches and fatigue. Additional signs might embrace nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Without well timed remedy, the an infection can worsen, ensuing in organ failure, coma or loss of life.

Watch: Dr. Bobbi Pritt talks about malaria and West Nile virus

Journalists: Broadcast-quality soundbites together with b-roll video of ticks may be discovered in the downloads at the finish of the publish. Please courtesy: “Mayo Clinic News Network.” Name tremendous/CG: Bobbi Pritt, M.D./Microbiology/Mayo Clinic.

Malaria is discovered in many components of the world, primarily in the tropics and subtropics. Although traditionally, malaria has been discovered in many different components of the world. The mosquitoes that transmit malaria are nonetheless present in the U.S. at present.

It was eradicated in the U.S. in 1951 by public health efforts. Most circumstances are actually imported from endemic international locations; nonetheless, typically, the illness is introduced again to the U.S. by mosquitoes or vacationers who’re already contaminated.

Testing for malaria

Early remedy for malaria is essential. Dr. Pritt says laboratory testing is important for definitive prognosis of malaria.

“The gold standard test for detecting malaria is conventional thick and thin blood films prepared on glass slides and then looked at through a microscope,” says Dr. Pritt. “Every laboratory in the U.S. that sees patients that potentially have malaria should be able to provide testing locally. We offer confirmatory testing here at Mayo Clinic, but it should never be used as the initial test. It should only be used for confirmation.”

a medical illustration of the infection cycle of malaria
A medical illustration of the an infection cycle of malaria.

Mosquito chunk and malaria prevention:

Dr. Pritt says these residing the place the malaria outbreak happens ought to take steps to keep away from being bitten by mosquitos.

Protect your self from malaria and different vector-borne illnesses by avoiding mosquito bites. 

Consider these tips to stop mosquito bites:

  • Remove standing water the place mosquitoes may lay eggs.
  • Remove gadgets that maintain water, resembling vases and flowerpot saucers.
  • Use an outside insect spray made to kill mosquitoes in areas the place they relaxation, together with darkish, humid areas; below patio furnishings; the carport; or in a storage.
  • Keep mosquitoes out of your private home by making certain window screens are intact, and maintain doorways closed.

“It’s additionally vital for physicians seeing sufferers in these areas to maintain malaria in their differential prognosis, even when the affected person hasn’t traveled outdoors of the U.S., not less than whereas this outbreak is going on till it is contained, Dr. Pritt provides.

Some remedies may help stop gentle malaria circumstances from changing into extra extreme, however there is not an absolute method to assure malaria prevention.

“There is not currently a good preventive vaccine that is 100% effective for malaria, although there are a number of people working on vaccines, and there is a vaccine that’s used in some parts of endemic areas that offers some protection against severe disease,” she says.

Learn extra about Mayo Clinic Laboratories and tests for vector-borne illnesses.

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