WEDNESDAY, July 19, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- The United States now has had eight reported cases of malaria, seven of them in Florida, state health officials reported Tuesday.
Considered a public health emergency, these cases are the first in two decades to be acquired within this country's borders, not reported by someone who had traveled elsewhere, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned last month.
Seven of the cases have been found in Sarasota County, including the latest, according to a report from Florida health officials. The remaining case was reported in Texas in June and is not connected to the Florida cases, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Despite the seriousness, public health officials are not concerned about a widespread outbreak because there are fewer places for mosquitoes to breed than in past years as building development has expanded, plus screens and air conditioning have left people less vulnerable to mosquito bites, NBC News reported.
"We don't think this is going to go broadly -- say, to a nationwide outbreak -- for a number of reasons," Monica Parise, M.D., director of the CDC Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, told NBC News. Past U.S. outbreaks have been "relatively small and contained," Parise said, and the latest one fits that pattern.
A parasite known as Plasmodium vivax caused the recent cases, according to the CDC. It is not as deadly as other parasites that can cause malaria, NBC News reported. Yet, it can still cause chronic infections for years if it lies dormant in the liver.
Although malaria is considered eradicated from the United States, about 2,000 people are diagnosed with it each year, typically those who have traveled outside the country, according to the CDC.