The Mobile County Health Department has confirmed that a teenage girl who traveled this summer to the Republic of Uganda contracted malaria. She has been hospitalized since Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, and is recovering. This is the first reported case of the disease in Mobile County in at least two years, health officials said.

Mobile County
Mobile County, Alabama map (in red)/David Benbennick

Dr. Bernard Eichold, Health Officer for Mobile County, advises those who plan to travel outside the United States to take all necessary steps to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Malaria is a mosquito-borne illness prevalent in more than 100 countries worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are grateful the young woman is responding to treatment,” said Dr. Eichold. “It’s important, when traveling internationally, to take the proper precautions by getting all required and recommended vaccines and other treatments beforehand.”

Malaria is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes. In the human body, the parasites multiply in the liver, and then infect red blood cells.

Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, and vomiting, and usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite. If not treated, malaria can quickly become life-threatening by disrupting the blood supply to vital organs. In many parts of the world, the parasites have developed resistance to a number of malaria medicines.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , there were an estimated 207 million cases of malaria in 2012, causing over 600,000 deaths, with 80 and 90% occurring in Africa, respectively. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page.