Malaria in humans is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes in the genus distributed throughout the world.
History in the U.S.
Human malaria was endemic in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was “eradicated” from the U.S by mid 1950. From 1957 through 1996, 78 human cases of introduced malaria, have been reported from 22 states. Three of the cases were in Florida, one was a woman camping in the panhandle's Gulf County in 1990, and two in men living in Palm Beach County in 1996. These patients had never lived or visited a malarious area. These cases are the first reported in Florida since malaria was eradicated in the State in 1948. Presently, the major hazard of malaria transmission in Florida stems from people who have relapses, or cases recently acquired in foreign countries where malaria is common.
Transmission & Symptoms
The parasite is transmitted from person to person by the bite of Anopheles mosquitoes, and only Anopheles mosquitoes. The malaria parasite inhabits the human red blood cells, where it multiplies asexually. After reaching maturity in 48 to 72 hours, the red blood cells burst and release large numbers of new parasites, most of which enter new red bloods cells, thus, reinitiating the cycle. The typical malaria symptoms, chills and fever, are associated with this rupturing of infected red, cells.
Infection of the mosquito takes place when an Anopheles female feeds on an infected person who is carrying gametocytes. The human infection is initiated when sporozoites are injected during the bite of the infected mosquito. To avoid the risk of malaria, avoid mosquito bites - it is that simple. Humans cannot get malaria from wild animals, domestic animals or pets. Transmission of malaria from human to human is accomplished by Anopheles mosquitoes or by reuses of needles contaminated with the blood of an infected person.
For more information please visit the Florida Department of Health website and the Florida Cooperative Extension's Electronic Information website.