WHAT IS IT?
Malaria is a parasitic disease caused by any one of four species of Plasmodium parasite. P. falciparum, P. malariae, P. ovale, and P. vivax. The parasites are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Transmissions have occurred in Africa, South Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania.
Malaria was eliminated from the United States in the early 1950’s but there is a constant risk that malaria could be reintroduced because three types of Anopheles mosquitoes are still found in the United States. Approximately 1,500-2,000 cases of malaria are reported each year in the United States mostly by returning travelers and immigrants.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
- Back pain
Untreated Malaria especially when caused by P. falciparum infection can lead to coma, renal failure, pulmonary edema, and death. Symptoms generally begin 10 days to 4 weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito; a person may feel ill as late as 1 year later.
HOW CAN I PREVENT CONTRACTING THIS DISEASE?
There is currently no vaccine against malarial infection. Illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented with antimalarial drugs. Malaria can be cured with prescription drugs.
There are many effective antimalarial drugs available. Visit your health-care provider or our Travel Clinic 4 to 6 weeks before you travel to allow enough time for the drugs to become effective. See a doctor if you become sick during or after you travel.
Other methods of prevention include:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside your home.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients:
- DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
For more information about immunizations, visit our Immunizations page