No new malaria cases reported in Sarasota County between Aug. 6 and Aug. 12, state confirms

Pest Gnome releases Top 20 list of counties in U.S. most vulnerable for mosquito-borne illnesses

This is a map of Kensington Park, which is one of the communities where individuals became infected with malaria this summer. Image from Trulia

Once again, the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee has recorded no new malaria cases in Sarasota County.

The latest state report covers the period of Aug. 6 through Aug. 12. Thus, the seven cases identified between May 24 and July 13 remain the only ones about which the Department of Health has been notified.

County and federal officials have pointed to research showing that if no further cases show up, the outbreak can be considered over around Sept. 7.

On June 26, after the first four Sarasota County cases were confirmed, the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee issued a statewide mosquito-borne illness advisory. That alert cautioned, “Residents throughout the state should take precautions by applying bug spray, avoiding areas with high mosquito populations, and wearing long pants and shirts when possible — especially during sunrise and sunset when mosquitos are most active.”

All of the county cases were classified as having been transmitted locally, meaning that the persons who became infected had not traveled out of the area before they became ill. Each of the individuals who contracted malaria — including three homeless persons — was reported to have been infected in the Kensington Park and Desoto Acres communities in the northern part of the county. Accordingly, the county’s Mosquito Management Services team focused mosquito eradication efforts on those areas, as Jamie Carson, director of the county’s Communications Department, has pointed out.

This is part of a CDC graphic about malaria. Image from the CDC website

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its own malaria advisory on June 26. That said, “CDC is collaborating with two U.S. state health departments with ongoing investigations of locally acquired mosquito-transmitted Plasmodium vivax malaria cases. There is no evidence to suggest the cases in the two states (Florida and Texas) are related.”

The agency added, “Locally acquired mosquito-borne malaria has not occurred in the United States since 2003 when eight cases of locally acquired P. vivax malaria were identified in Palm Beach County … Despite these cases, the risk of locally acquired malaria remains extremely low in the United States. However, Anopheles mosquito vectors, found throughout many regions of the country, are capable of transmitting malaria if they feed on a malaria-infected person. The risk is higher in areas where local climatic conditions allow the Anopheles mosquito to survive during most of or the entire year and where travelers from malaria-endemic areas are found.”

The Pest Gnome list of counties most vulnerable to mosquito-borne illnesses
The same day the state Health Department released its latest Arbovirus Report on mosquito-borne illnesses, Pest Gnome announced its ranking of 2023’s Most Vulnerable Counties for Mosquito-Borne Diseases. The company said the list was issued to mark World Mosquito Day, which is Aug. 20.

“We compared nearly 800 counties based on four categories,” the news release explained. “We looked at the number of mosquito species in each state, recent cases of diseases” — such as West Nile and Eastern equine encephalitis — “and mosquito-friendly climate, among 12 total metrics.”

Pest Gnome noted that the data it used covered the period from 2020 to 2022. The company did add, “Locally transmitted cases of malaria — an illness considered ‘eliminated’ in the U.S. and typically acquired abroad — have been recently detected in Florida and Texas but currently are not considered a threat. There is also a history of locally transmitted dengue fever in several states, including Florida, Hawaii, Arizona, and Texas.”

The Top 20 most vulnerable counties on the list included six in Florida; Sarasota County was not among them. Those named were as follows:

  • No. 12 — Collier.
  • No. 13 — Miami-Dade.
  • No 14 — Santa Rosa.
  • No. 16 — Martin.
  • No. 18 — Escambia.
  • No. 20 — Charlotte.

Sarasota County came in at No. 84

No. 1 on the list was Pitt County, N.C., which is home to East Carolina University and one of North Carolina’s major medical centers.

This map shows the location of Pitt County in Eastern North Carolina. Image from Google Maps

Maricopa County, Arizona, was No. 2.

“Although Pitt reported fewer mosquito-borne diseases than other counties over the past few years,” the news release said, with emphasis, “it has the perfect conditions that allow mosquitoes to thrive.”