Florida And Texas Report First Locally Acquired Cases Of Malaria In Over 20 Years

Malaria mosquito
CBS Miami

For as much as we love to hear comeback stories of natural things that were once on the brink of extinction, this is one of those cases we don’t want to see.

One of the more notable species comeback stories in recent years is the Florida panther, whose population once hovered in the 20 to 30 range, but now shows signs of stability and a population of around 200 in Southern Florida.

But we’re now getting word that another natural thing that was for a long time extinct in the US has reappeared.


Just the word is enough to send shivers down most people’s spines, but in case you aren’t aware, it’s a disease caused by a parasite which spreads to humans through mosquito bites. Symptoms include a high fever, shaking chills, headaches, muscle pain, and vomiting, and is widely regarded as one of the worst diseases in the world, causing an estimated 150-300 million deaths in the 20th century, according to the NIH. In 2021 alone, the WHO stated that 619,000 deaths were caused by malaria worldwide.

Despite it still being present in regions of Africa, South America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the South Pacific, locally acquired cases in the US have been all but a thing of the past, that is until recently.

Malaria was eliminated from the US in 1951 thanks to an aggressive campaign of spraying DDT in rural homes and draining swamps. Of course, this came with its own issues as more research indicates the awful downsides of using an agent as powerful as DDT, but the intended purpose of eliminating malaria was a success.

While around 2,000 cases of malaria are reported in the US each year, according to NPR, all those cases were contracted elsewhere and diagnosed at home. These most recent cases were almost certainly contracted through a mosquito bite within US borders.

Over the past two months, 5 case of locally contracted malaria have been reported, 4 in Florida and 1 in Texas. It is the first time the disease has been present in these states since 2003 and 1994, respectively.

Researchers say the strain of malaria these patients acquired is a milder form and they are recovering with use of antimalarial treatments.

So what do we do now?

Summer is here and people around the country are going to be doing what they can to enjoy the weather and make some memories in the great outdoors.

Here’s a few tips given by Forbes to protect yourself and your family.

1. Cover up with long sleeves, especially in the evening and dawn.

2. Use bug spray with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535

3. Cover doors and windows with screens

4. Drain standing water (garbage can lids, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, really anything that can hold a puddle of water after a rain storm)

5. Throw away old tires, drums, bottles, cans, and anything like those that are not being used which can serve as a home for mosquitos

6. Empty and clean bird baths and pet’s water bowls twice a week

7. Keep your swimming pool in good condition with proper chemical treatment

Regardless, if you start to feel sick and have been exposed to mosquito bites, go see a doctor immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when dealing with something as major as malaria.

5 cases isn’t enough to cause a nationwide panic, but it’s better to be aware when things like this start popping up.

Stay safe out there.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock