Puerto Rican health officials are reporting three confirmed and two suspected cases of malaria in students who traveled to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic as part of a graduation celebration, according to a El Nuevo Dia report (computer translated).
According to Health Secretary Ana Ruis, the students from two schools, described as ages 15-21, traveled to the Dominican Republic during the first week of July and two weeks later, five people with suspected symptoms of malaria. Three of them were confirmed as cases of malaria.
Ruis went on to say two of the students were negative for the parasitic infection. The report did not specify the type of malaria contracted.
“The Health Department began the process of monitoring and research with relevant schools,” he said.
Punta Cana is located on the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic where it abuts the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
The mosquito-borne disease, malaria continues to sicken and kill far too many people each year, most of them children. In 2012, roughly 207 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide resulting in 627,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2013, 97 countries had ongoing malaria transmission, placing 3.4 billion people at risk for the disease.