In a follow-up on the locally acquired malaria case in Maryland a little over a week ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the case was caused by the Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) species and is unrelated to the cases involving local transmission of Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) malaria in Florida and Texas.
According to the CDC, P. falciparum malaria can rapidly cause severe illness and even death if not quickly diagnosed, therefore rapid diagnosis and treatment is imperative. In addition to routinely considering malaria as a cause of febrile illness among patients with a history of international travel to areas where malaria is transmitted, clinicians should consider a malaria diagnosis in any person with an unexplained cause of fever, regardless of their travel history. The risk to the U.S. public for locally acquired mosquito-transmitted malaria remains very low. The most effective way to prevent malaria in the United States is for travelers to malaria-endemic areas to take appropriate steps to prevent acquiring malaria while traveling—including taking medications to prevent malaria—and ensuring early diagnosis and treatment of imported cases of malaria and preventing mosquito bites.