- Maryland detected a locally acquired case of malaria, the first in over 40 years, health officials said.
- It comes after similar cases were reported earlier this summer in Florida and Texas.
- Health officials maintain there is an “extremely low” risk of locally contracting malaria in the US.
Someone in Maryland contracted malaria, and officials are scratching their heads as they grapple with the state’s first local case of the disease in four decades.
The Maryland Department of Health confirmed the case on Friday, saying the individual lives in the Washington, D.C., region and had not recently traveled internationally – a common flag for malaria cases.
“Malaria was once common in the United States, including in Maryland, but we have not seen a case in Maryland that was not related to travel in over 40 years,” Laura Herrera Scott, secretary of the state Department of Heath, said in a statement, adding that the department is “taking this very seriously.”
The state normally sees about 200 cases of the disease related to travel, the statement said.
The illness, stemming from mosquito bites, can cause extreme fever, chills, body aches, diarrhea, and vomiting, the statement said.
“Malaria can be very dangerous and even fatal if it is not treated, but early treatment reduces the chances of complications,” said Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services, said in the statement. “We urge the public to take precautions against mosquito bites, and if you develop symptoms after traveling abroad, seek urgent medical care.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously reported similar, locally acquired malaria cases in Florida and Texas, calling the risk of catching the disease locally “extremely low in the United States.” A total of eight cases were documented across the two states, according to a July press statement.
The CDC did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on Sunday.