August 19, 2014
Health officials: Malaria confirmed in local resident who traveled in East Africa
MOBILE, Ala. – The Mobile County Health Department has confirmed that a teenage girl who traveled this summer to the Republic of Uganda contracted malaria. She has been hospitalized since Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, and is recovering. This is the first reported case of the disease in Mobile County in at least two years, health officials said.
Dr. Bernard Eichold, Health Officer for Mobile County, advises those who plan to travel outside the United States to take all necessary steps to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Malaria is a mosquito-borne illness prevalent in more than 100 countries worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are grateful the young woman is responding to treatment,” said Dr. Eichold. “It’s important, when traveling internationally, to take the proper precautions by getting all required and recommended vaccines and other treatments beforehand.”
Malaria is not a contagious disease spread from person to person like a cold or the flu, and it cannot be sexually transmitted, according to the CDC. It can’t be spread from casual contact with the infected, such as sitting next to someone who has the illness. Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain mosquito which feeds on humans. Those who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death can usually be prevented.
About 1,500 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC. The vast majority of cases in America are in travelers and immigrants returning from countries where malaria transmission occurs, many from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.