Malaria Arrives in Maryland
The Maryland Department of Health announced a positive case of locally acquired malaria in a person living in the National Capital Region. This new Maryland patient was hospitalized and is reported to be recovering.
Maryland typically reports around 200 travel-related malaria cases each year.
“Malaria was once common in the United States, including in Maryland, but we have not seen a case in Maryland that was unrelated to travel in over 40 years,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Laura Herrera Scott in a press release on August 18, 2023.
“We are taking this very seriously and will work with local and federal health officials to investigate this case.”
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite often reported in Africa and Central America.
More than 2,000 travel-related malaria cases are reported annually in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with most cases occurring in people returning from international travel.
The global number of malaria cases exceeds 200 million annually.
Symptoms of malaria usually appear 7 to 30 days after an infective bite and include high fever, chills, body aches, diarrhea, and vomiting.
“Malaria can be very dangerous and even fatal if not treated, but early treatment reduces the chances of complications,” commented Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman.
Antimalarial treatments are available in the U.S.
The risk to the public for locally acquired mosquito-transmitted malaria remains very low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, if you are planning a trip abroad, check with your healthcare provider for current recommendations on prescription medications to prevent malaria. And before departure, learn about precautions for malaria and other diseases for your destination.
If you have traveled to an area where malaria transmission occurs, and you develop fever, chills, headache, body aches, and fatigue, seek urgent medical care and tell your healthcare provider that you have traveled.
As of August 2023, malaria vaccines are not available in the U.S.
In October 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the Mosquirix™ (RTS,S/AS01) malaria vaccine, and the R21/Matrix-M™ vaccine was approved in 2023.