County Mosquito Management staff continues to focus eradication efforts on Desoto Acres and Kensington Park, where persons who were infected live
The latest report published by the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee — covering the period of July 2-8 — shows no new malaria cases identified in Sarasota County.
The prior report — for the period of June 25 through July 1 — brought the county total to six since May.
The Health Department has noted in all of its reports about the cases that they were “locally acquired,” meaning the infected persons did not contract malaria from travel out of the area.
In a July 7 update on its website, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that it “is collaborating with two state health departments on an investigation of six locally acquired cases of Plasmodium vivax malaria in Sarasota County, FL and one case in Cameron County, [Texas]. There is no evidence to suggest that the cases in the two states are related. All patients were promptly treated at area hospitals and are recovering.”
Then the CDC explained, “Most malaria cases diagnosed in the United States are imported, usually by persons who travel to countries where malaria is endemic. However, locally acquired mosquito-transmitted malaria cases can occur, as Anopheles mosquito vectors exist throughout the United States. [That is the species of mosquito that carries malaria]. In 2003 there were 8 cases of locally acquired P. vivax malaria identified in Palm Beach County, FL.”
The CDC emphasized, “The risk of locally acquired malaria is extremely low in the United States.”
It also notes on its webpages focused on malaria that about “2,000 cases … are diagnosed in the United States each year. The vast majority of cases in the United States are in travelers and immigrants returning from countries where malaria transmission occurs, many from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.”
“The Florida Department of Health is working closely with local partners and county mosquito control in Sarasota County and Manatee County to prevent further transmission of malaria and enhance case detection,” the CDC added in its July 7 update. “They have conducted both aerial and truck spraying in the general area where the [infected individuals live]. State and local public health professionals have communicated to area clinicians and the public to raise awareness and provide guidance.”
However, the agency pointed out, “Testing mosquitoes for Plasmodium outside of the area where locally transmitted cases have been found will be of limited value. There’s no reason to believe that other areas are at a higher risk than usual for local malaria transmission. The key remains early detection and treatment of imported human cases to minimize the risk of onward transmission.”
A July 7 Sarasota County news release said, “Sarasota County Mosquito Management Services [continues] to focus treatments and surveillance efforts in North Sarasota (Desoto Acres and Kensington [Park],) where there have been confirmed malaria cases and infected mosquitoes and areas that have long-lasting standing water. Multiple truck, aerial [and] backpack treatments have been conducted to eradicate the Anopheles. Staff are also working in a mile outside those areas.”
During a July 11 Facebook Live interview with county Media Relations Officer Sara Nealeigh, Wade Brennan, manager of the county’s Mosquito Management Services, said, “Our staff are out in all the wood lots, our swamps, along the canals,” seeking to rid those areas of mosquitoes.
He also reported that no new malaria cases in the county had been confirmed since early June.
Further, Brennan said his staff is continuing to collect mosquitoes for shipment to the CDC, where they are tested for malaria. Only one Anopheles mosquito is sent per tube, as the federal agency has directed, he pointed out.
The CDC does provide caution about contracting malaria, explaining that it “is a serious and sometimes fatal disease … People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness.”
County staff is continuing to urge members of the public to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Staff has made the following recommendations:
- “Avoid being outside between dusk and sunrise.
- “Wear repellant and loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- “Drain any standing water on your property.
- “Remove aquatic vegetation from ponds, lakes, canals, ditches and anything that holds water for a long time and has overgrowth of vegetation.”
For more information on Mosquito Management Services, mosquito-borne illness, and spray missions, or to submit a service request, call 311 or visit scgov.net/mosquito.