First Local Case of Malaria in Four Decades Reported in Arkansas

The first locally acquired case of malaria in over 40 years has been reported in Arkansas. This incident raises concerns that the disease, which was once eradicated in the United States, is making a comeback.

The patient who contracted the disease resides in Saline County, Arkansas and has not recently traveled outside the country. This indicates that the infection was acquired locally.

Arkansas is now the fourth state this year to report a locally acquired case of malaria, following Florida, Texas, and Maryland.

This recent case marks the tenth instance of malaria infection on U.S. soil this year, indicating a concerning trend of the disease gaining a foothold in the country for the first time in two decades.

Dr. Naveen Patil, the deputy health officer for Arkansas, confirmed that this is the first locally acquired case of malaria detected in the state since at least 1980. He expressed concern, stating that it has been 30 to 40 years since they’ve tracked a case of locally acquired malaria in Arkansas.

While Arkansas has reported five other cases of malaria this year, all of them were linked to travel outside of the country. This new case, however, is different as it is a locally acquired infection, likely transmitted through a mosquito bite.

In response to this alarming development, the local health department has initiated efforts to capture and test local mosquitoes to determine the source of the infection. They are also likely to carry out pesticide spraying in areas where mosquitoes carrying malaria have been identified.

Malaria is not a disease that can be spread from person to person. Instead, mosquitoes become infected when they bite a malaria patient and then transmit the disease by biting another human.

The last time malaria was transmitted locally in the U.S. was in 2003 during an outbreak in Florida that resulted in eight infections.

The resurgence of malaria cases in the U.S. is a cause for concern. Earlier this year, Florida detected seven locally acquired cases in Sarasota County.

In Texas, a 21-year-old guard working along the state’s border with Mexico contracted the disease. A case was also diagnosed in Maryland in a resident living in the National Capital Region of the state next to Washington D.C.

Malaria was eradicated in the U.S. in the 1950s, but experts fear the disease could make a comeback due to international travel. They warn that mosquitoes carrying malaria could enter the country on boats or planes, or infected individuals traveling from abroad could introduce the disease.

What do you think?

Written by Western Reader

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