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FAQs - Diseases

Have questions?

Find immediate answers to commonly asked questions, such as “what is Malaria?”, “is Malaria fatal?”, “can I catch Malaria in the US?” and more.






    Q:     Can I catch Malaria here in the United States?


    A: It is possible, although almost all of the cases were ones that people caught when they traveled to countries where Malaria outbreaks occur.  We have two Anopheles mosquitoes that are responsible for transmitting the parasites that cause Malaria:  Anopheles quadrimaculatus in the eastern part of the country and Anopheles freeborni in the western part.


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    Q:     Is Malaria Fatal?  Do people die from Malaria here in the U.S.?


    A:  Yes, people do die from the disease, although it all depends on the medical attention the patient receives.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that of 1,337 cases of malaria reported in 2002 here in the U.S., only 8 deaths occurred.


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    Q:       If I don’t travel to countries with Malaria outbreaks, then I should
               be okay, right?


    A: Unfortunately, no.  When there have been localized outbreaks in a particular area here in the United States, it is because of person-to-mosquito-to-person transmission: a mosquito here in the United States bites someone who acquired Malaria while traveling to an endemic area of the world.  That mosquito, infected with the Malaria parasites, then goes after another blood meal and bites someone else nearby, thereby injecting that new person with the Malaria virus.


    In very rare cases, blood transfusions have transmitted Malaria in the past, but the CDC has noted that these situations are preventable if the donor informs the blood collection agency of any travels to endemic areas of the world.


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    Q:      Where are the areas of the world where Malaria is found?


    A: Malaria can be found in Asia, Africa, Australia, Central and South America, the Middle East, parts of the Caribbean Islands, New Zealand, and in many islands of the central and southern Pacific Ocean.


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    Q:     How many people in the world die from Malaria?


    A: According to the CDC, out of the 350-500 million cases of Malaria that occur each year, more than a million people die.  Most of the deaths occur in the very young in the sub-Sahara regions of Africa.  These numbers may not tell the whole story, since many of those who contract the disease in certain areas, particularly in developing countries, do not seek or are unable to get proper medical attention.


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    Q:      What are the symptoms of Malaria?


    A: Symptoms of Malaria are often similar to those of a severe case of the flu, including high fever, strong chills, head and body aches, and diarrhea and vomiting.


    Other complications include jaundice, anemia, kidney failure, seizures and coma. Without proper medical attention, death may occur.  It is a very serious illness in many regions of developing countries around the world.


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    Q:      Are there any vaccines or medicines to fight Malaria?


    A: Yes and no.  There are no vaccines currently available, although creating such a vaccine is a top priority in health research.  The parasite causing Malaria is constantly changing in its antigen composition, making it difficult for a vaccine to be created.


    Now for the good news:  there are two main types of medicines.  When treated promptly with medication, it is possible to rid the body of the parasites that cause Malaria.


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    Q:       If there are no vaccines against Malaria, how do I keep from
               getting it?


    A:  If you are planning to travel to countries where Malaria outbreaks occur, check with your physician or health professional about medications to take.  This should be done about a month or so before the travel date.


    Here in our country, the best method is prevention.  By using common sense and technology, we can work toward preventing mosquitoes from biting our families, pets and guests.  Mosquito traps can be a part of that prevention.


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