Latest Florida Health Department report shows no new malaria cases identified in Sarasota County

Locally acquired dengue case count climbing in South Florida

This is an Anopheles mosquito, which has been identified as the carrier of the type of malaria that has infected Sarasota County residents. Image by Jim Gathany via Wikimedia Commons

No new Sarasota County malaria cases in Sarasota County: That was the news in the Florida Department of Health’s report for Aug. 13-19 regarding mosquito-borne illnesses statewide.

As The Sarasota News Leader has noted, the last case was confirmed on July 13, bringing the total to seven since the first infected person was identified on May 24.

Health officials have said that, based on how the disease is transmitted, the local outbreak would be considered over around Sept. 7 if no new cases are confirmed by then.

All of the individuals who became ill — including three homeless persons — were believed to have been infected in the Kensington Park and Desoto Acres communities in the northern part of the county, county staff has pointed out.

While the malaria concerns have been ebbing in Sarasota County, the latest state Arbovirus Report continues to note an uptick in the number of locally acquired cases of dengue in other counties. Four more individuals were reported to have become infected with dengue since the previous Health Department update was issued, which was for the period of Aug. 6 through Aug. 12.

The new dengue cases were spread among Hardee, Miami-Dade and Polk counties, the latest Florida Department of Health report noted. Altogether, 15 locally acquired cases have been identified this year, the department pointed out.

On Aug. 17, reporter Cindy Krischer Goodman wrote in the South Florida Sun Sentinel that the Health Department’s record of the locally acquired dengue cases shows that “the disease is flourishing on its own in the area.” She characterized that as “a rarer scenario.”

As of that date, she pointed out, Florida had 10 locally acquired cases. Both Broward and Miami-Dade counties had two of those apiece.

Yet, by far, she noted, the largest number of cases have been found in Florida residents who had traveled to Cuba: 130. Altogether, she wrote, 190 cases of dengue have been confirmed in Floridians “with travel history to dengue-endemic areas, including Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic.”

“Peru is suffering its worst-ever recorded outbreak of dengue,” Goodman added.

“ ‘Dengue is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and is not normally present in Florida. However, infected travelers can bring the virus back to Florida mosquitoes,’ ” the Florida Department of Health-Broward said in a health alert,” Goodman explained.

Malaria is spread by the Anopheles mosquito, health officials have pointed out.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, “Dengue viruses are spread to people through the bite of an infected Aedes species (Ae. aegypti or Ae. albopictus) mosquito. Almost half of the world’s population, about 4 billion people, live in areas with a risk of dengue,” the CDC adds. “Dengue is often a leading cause of illness in areas with risk.”

The agency also notes that approximately one in four people infected with dengue will get sick, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Those symptoms, the CDC notes, are nausea and vomiting, a rash, aches and pain — especially pain behind the eyes, in the muscles and joints, and in the bones. The symptoms typically last two to seven days, the agency says. “Most people will recover after about a week.”

The CDC also points out that local spread of dengue has been reported in Hawaii, Texas and Arizona, as well as in Florida.