Uptick In U.S. Malaria Cases Due To ‘Relaxed Attitude’; Vigilance ‘Critical’ To Maintain Progress

“Thanks to malaria elimination efforts in the United States in the 1940s, most people in the U.S. today have never had any direct contact with the disease and most doctors have never seen a case. That success means it’s easy to have a relaxed attitude about protecting ourselves,” CDC Director Tom Frieden writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “We’re now seeing the result of that relaxed attitude,” he states, noting a CDC report released Thursday “that finds there were 1,925 malaria cases reported in the United States in 2011 …, the highest number of malaria cases in the [country] in the past 40 years.” Frieden writes, “Almost all the cases reported in the U.S. in 2011 were acquired overseas,” adding, “It’s another example of our interconnected world. Diseases like malaria are just a plane ride away.” He continues, “People traveling to malaria-prone areas can protect themselves by taking steps such as taking antimalarial drugs, using insect repellent, sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets, and wearing protective clothing.” He concludes, “Our progress against malaria is impressive. But vigilance remains a critical ingredient to protect the health of all people” (10/31).