The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently given a health alert to people living in Florida and Texas. As of June 26, 2023, the CDC has discovered several cases of malaria that were contracted within those states. But what does this mean, and how can you safeguard your health? The professionals at explain everything you need to know about the recent malaria health alert and provide tips on how you can protect yourself and your family.
What is Malaria?Malaria is a disease that can be very dangerous and even life-threatening. It spreads to people through mosquito bites. In the beginning, it often feels like having the flu, with symptoms such as shivering, muscle pain, throwing up, and feeling very tired. If left untreated, it can lead to severe problems like kidney failure, seizures, and other serious conditions. Most people start experiencing symptoms within four weeks after getting bitten by a mosquito carrying the infection. However, some people may not get sick until much later, even up to a year after they were first infected. If you think you might have malaria, it's crucial to seek immediate medical help for a diagnosis and treatment.
Why Are the Recent Malaria Cases Important?Malaria is a disease that is found in many parts of the world, with a higher occurrence in tropical and subtropical regions. However, despite being a global concern, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a health advisory for these particular cases. The reason these malaria cases are significant is that they mark the first instances of locally transmitted cases in the United States since 2003. For the past 20 years, almost all cases of malaria in the US have been linked to individuals who recently traveled to regions where malaria is more common. Although the current outbreak is not widespread, it's crucial to contain the disease before it can pose a greater threat within the United States.
How Does Malaria Spread?Despite common misconceptions, it's important to know that malaria cannot be passed from one person to another. It can only be transmitted through mosquitoes that carry the infection. This is why one of the most effective ways to prevent the disease is by taking steps to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.
Tips for Preventing Mosquito BitesIt might feel challenging to avoid mosquitoes, especially during the summertime here in Florida. However, there are several actions you can take to shield yourself from mosquito bites:
- Reduce mosquito populations in your surroundings: By minimizing the number of mosquitoes in your area, you can decrease your chances of getting bitten. Since mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, start by getting rid of even the tiniest puddles in your yard. Check areas like gutters, playground equipment, landscaping features, upturned buckets, and any spots where water might accumulate.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants: While some mosquitoes can bite through clothing, wearing protective garments can make it more difficult for them to reach your skin.
- Avoid going out at dawn and dusk: Mosquitoes are most active during dawn and dusk. Staying indoors during these times can help you steer clear of large mosquito swarms and reduce the likelihood of being bitten.
- Use mosquito netting and check your screens: Prevent mosquitoes from buzzing around your home by repairing any holes in your door and window screens. Consider sleeping under a mosquito net for added protection. You can also use mosquito netting to cover your porch, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors without worrying about bites.
- Apply an EPA-registered repellent: The Environmental Protection Agency provides a list of registered products that can effectively repel mosquitoes and other pests. Visit their website to find the right repellent for your needs and learn how to apply it safely.
- Avoid ineffective DIY methods: There are numerous tips and tricks on the Internet that claim to repel mosquitoes, but many of them are not worth the time, effort, or money—and some may even backfire. Check out our other blog to learn about mosquito prevention tips that are not effective.