Number of U.S. Malaria Cases Highest in 40 Years. Have We Forgotten What It Takes To Prevent It?

Posted on by Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, CDC Director

 

This blog was originally posted in the Huffington Post on October 31, 2013.

 

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

Progress can be dangerous.

Thanks to malaria elimination efforts in United States in the 1940s, most people in the U. S. today have never had any direct contact with the disease and most doctors have never seen a case. That success means it’s easy to have a relaxed attitude about protecting ourselves.

We’re now seeing the result of that relaxed attitude – the highest number of malaria cases in the United States in the past 40 years.

That’s the conclusion of our recent analysis that finds there were 1,925 malaria cases reported in the United States in 2011. Sadly, the number also includes five deaths.

This contrasts sharply with the great progress made in reducing the number of malaria death globally.

Between 2000 and 2010, malaria mortality rates fell by 26% around the world. According to the latest World Health Organization estimates, there were about 219 million cases of malaria in 2010 and an estimated 660,000 deaths.

Infographic: Imported malaria cases highest in 40 yearsThe WHO credits a scale-up of intervention efforts such as bed nets, spraying and the use of rapid diagnostic tests to quickly find and treat those infected with malaria for preventing an estimated 1.1 million deaths from 2000 to 2010.

Almost all the cases reported in the U.S. in 2011 were acquired overseas. Most cases originated in somewhere in Africa, although India was the individual country where the most cases were acquired.

Each year travelers make 32 million trips to countries where malaria occurs.

It’s another example of our interconnected world. Diseases like malaria are just a plane ride away.

Most of those cases and deaths could have been prevented. People traveling to malaria-prone areas can protect themselves by taking steps such as taking antimalarial drugs, using insect repellent, sleeping under insecticide-treated bed-nets, and wearing protective clothing.

The lesson is both clear and simple. Think ahead and protect yourself.

We can help. Our webpages have information for travelers about malaria prevention measures and detailed information on countries of concern.

Clinicians can consult the CDC Guidelines for Treatment of Malaria and contact CDC’s malaria hotline, 770-488-7788 or toll-free at 855-856-4713, for case management advice as needed.

Our progress against malaria is impressive. But vigilance remains a critical ingredient to protect the health of all people.

Posted on by Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, CDC Director

2 comments on “Number of U.S. Malaria Cases Highest in 40 Years. Have We Forgotten What It Takes To Prevent It?”

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    These findings underscore the need for preventative care prior to traveling outside the U.S. Passport Health clinics nationwide strive to educate and protect travelers through knowledge, vaccinations and medications like malaria prophylaxis. Just posted on our blog yesterday is an in-depth article explaining why Malaria prophylaxis is a worthwhile health investment when traveling. Please see and share the article here for more information http://www.passporthealthusa.com/2013/10/malaria-prophylaxis-a-worthwhile-health-investment/.

    Healthy Travels!

    Malaria and many other vector borne diseases are on the increase in the USA in the last few years. Why?

    The fact that vector control is more difficult for local governments to provide due to onerous federal legislation to protect from imagined environmental damages by the controllers, could be one reason.

    Smaller cities and less wealthy counties do not have the funds to comply with the current legislative requirements to continue their programs, thus they are stopped.

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Page last updated: May 11, 2021
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