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Malaria Cases Detected in Florida and Texas, U.S. Health Authorities Report

The United States of America, USA, has recorded five cases of malaria. All five patients — four in Florida, one in Texas — have now had treatment.

According to a BBC report, the Florida and Texas cases were locally acquired; the first spread of the mosquito-transmitted disease inside the US in 20 years.

Meanwhile, the Centres for Disease Control said surveillance for more cases is continuing, adding that the risk of catching malaria in the US remains extremely low.

The Centre said it was working with the Florida and Texas health departments and that those recently diagnosed and treated “are improving”.

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Malaria is caused by being bitten by an infected mosquito. People cannot catch it from each other. But the insects catch it from infected people, thereby continuing a cycle.

Malaria is common in Africa, Asia and Central and South America but not the US.

However, Anopheles mosquitoes, found throughout many parts of the US, can transmit malaria, if they have fed on an infected person.

The risk is higher in areas where the climate means insects survive during most of the year travellers from malaria-endemic areas are found.

Infected people can suffer fever, sweats and chills. Malaria is an emergency and must be treated quickly with drugs to kill the parasite that causes the infection.

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Using insect repellent and covering up can help protect against mosquito bites.

US doctors are being advised to consider malaria in any person with an unexplained fever, regardless of international travel history, particularly if they have visited or live in the affected areas of Florida or Texas.

Florida has issued a mosquito-borne illness alert after cases were discovered in Sarasota County and Manatee County, warning residents to drain standing water where mosquitoes can breed and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. (BBC)

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