Should We Worry About Malaria Here In Western New York?
It’s about to be a wet and rainy few days here in Western New York, and the warm and damp weather isn’t just putting a damper on our last-minute summer plans - it's making it a prime time for mosquitoes to breed.
Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying (and itchy!), they could also carry diseases like West Nile and Zika virus that could make you sick.
A a recent cases of one serious and potentially fatal mosquito-borne illness, malaria, is causing concern for an incredibly rare reason.
Could this deadly disease affect us here in Western New York?
How Does Malaria Spread?
According to the CDC, Malaria is typically transmitted through the bite of an infected female mosquito. Less commonly, malaria can also be passed from mother to baby while pregnant or during birth, through a blood transfusion or an organ transplant, or through unsafe needle-sharing practices.
What Are The Symptoms Of Malaria?
Although it isn’t contagious, Malaria can cause a person to experience symptoms like:
- Shaking chills
- Muscle aches
If not treated right away, Malaria can lead to serious issues like kidney failure, mental confusion, seizures, coma, and even death.
How Many People In The US Get Malaria?
Thankfully, malaria is rare here in the United States. Before the pandemic, only about 2,000 cases were diagnosed here each year, mostly in people who had recently been to an area of the world where it’s more prevalent (like sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia).
However, the latest cases popping up in the states are causing alarm, prompting the CDC to release a warning.
New US Cases Of Malaria Cause For Concern
What makes these recent cases so concerning is that they’re the first cases of “locally acquired” malaria in the US in decades.
Officials say a case of malaria that wasn’t caught due to traveling has popped up in Maryland, just outside Washington D.C. The Maryland Department of Health said in a statement that the unidentified patient was hospitalized and is recovering.
This is the first reported case of locally acquired malaria in the state for over 40 years.
Since May, nine cases of locally acquired malaria have been reported in the US. Seven people within the same area in Florida recently became infected, along with a person in Texas who also seems to have caught the disease locally.
Could Malaria Spread To Western New York?
Although the chance of catching malaria without traveling is extremely low, you should still be on alert here in Western New York now that it’s in the US.
Warm and damp weather is a prime time for mosquitoes to breed, so whenever you’re traveling or spending time outdoors, you should apply bug spray liberally and wear long sleeves and pants when in wet areas.
Keep scrolling for other ways you can protect yourself from deadly mosquito-bourne illnesses here in the Buffalo area.