Chances of malaria spreading to Alabama are low despite cases spreading in US

Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 2:47 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Malaria cases have been reported in Texas and in Florida. Malaria is a parasite carried by mosquitoes that causes flu-like symptoms and can be fatal.

Wesley Willeford is the Medical Director of Disease Control in Jefferson County. He said the disease has not been commonly spread in the U.S. since 1949.

“We do have sporadic cases of malaria that come into the country. Most of those occur in people who have traveled outside of the country,” said Willeford.

In order for the disease to spread locally, the parasite has to be in a large enough proportion of the population that the mosquitos are picking it back up and spreading it.

Willeford said because the case is small and that mosquitos can’t travel far, he does not see the disease becoming a major issue in our area.

“The only way you’re going to get malaria established in an area is you have a person who is with an infection who goes in, and then a mosquito is feeding on them and then subsequently feeding on other people,” said Willeford.

If you are planning to travel outside of the country soon, you can check to see if the country has any specific medical advice.

“If you’re going to be going to one of those places that have active circulating malaria, you can try to obtain medications that are meant to prevent you from picking up malaria,” said Willeford.

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