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Maryland Confirms First Locally Acquired Malaria Case in Over 40 Years

The Maryland Department of Health confirmed Friday the first locally transmitted case of malaria in the state in over 40 years.

Malaria, a mosquito-borne parasite, causes high fever, chills, aches, diarrhea and vomiting seven to 30 days after exposure. Maryland has around 200 travel-related cases of malaria each year.

Health officials noted that the infected individual from the “National Capital Region” was hospitalized and then recovering, and that the patient did not have any recent travel abroad or to places inside the U.S. with recent locally-transmitted malaria cases, such as Florida and Texas.

The National Capital Region, in MDOH parlance, refers to Montgomery, Charles, Frederick, and Prince George’s Counties.

“Malaria was once common in the United States, including in Maryland, but we have not seen a case in Maryland that was not related to travel in over 40 years. We are taking this very seriously and will work with local and federal health officials to investigate this case,” MDOH Secretary Laura Herrera Scott said in a statement.

Five unrelated cases of malaria, four in Florida and one in Texas, were confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in late June to be the first locally-transmitted cases of the parasite in the entire United States since 2003.

CDC officials said that no evidence existed linking the malaria cases in the two states. MDOH officials told WTOP that the Maryland case is thought to be a third, separate strain of the illness as well.

Residents are urged to take anti-mosquito mitigation measures, such as using DEET, clearing out existing stagnant pools of water to prevent the laying of mosquito eggs, and keeping windows and doors closed and screened.

Perspective: The confirmation of a locally acquired malaria case in Maryland is a cause for concern but also a reminder of the importance of taking preventive measures against mosquito-borne diseases. With the increasing globalization and mobility of people, it is crucial to stay vigilant and informed about potential health risks, even in regions where certain diseases have been uncommon. Communities should work together with local and federal health officials to investigate and address such cases to ensure prompt and effective response. Additionally, individuals can contribute by following recommended actions like using mosquito repellents and eliminating breeding grounds for mosquitoes to protect themselves and their communities from diseases like malaria.

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