Second malaria case detected in Sarasota County

County staff conducting more spraying

 On the afternoon of June 19, the Florida Departments of Health in Sarasota and Manatee counties reported a second malaria case. That came a little more than three weeks after their May 26 alert about an initial case.

The person who first was infected has recovered, the departments pointed out. The individual identified with the second case is undergoing treatment, the new advisory said.

Residents in both counties “should take precautions,” such as wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants, applying bug spray, “and avoiding areas with high mosquito populations, especially during sunrise and sunset when mosquitos are most active,” the news release pointed out.

No information was provided to identify the specific areas where the persons believe they contracted malaria.

However, in its Florida Arbovirus Surveillance report for the week of June 11-17, the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee noted, “One case of locally acquired malaria was reported this week in Sarasota County. In 2023, two cases of locally acquired malaria have been reported.”

Moreover, on June 20 on its Facebook page, Sarasota County Government provided maps showing areas where aerial mosquito spraying was planned, weather permitting, after 10 p.m. that day. The Facebook post said that the affected urban area was south of University Parkway and east of Osprey Avenue. The affected rural area was along Lorraine Road, north of State Road 72 .

Two maps included with that post provided more details. One map showed the spraying area stretched from just north of Palmer Boulevard to south of Bee Ridge Road, reaching portions of Heritage Oaks Golf & Country Club and Misty Creek Country Club. That map included most of Rothenbach Park, which is east of the intersection of Bee Ridge Road and Lorraine Road.

The second map showed an area that stretched from just north of Desoto Acres and Desoto Lakes — including the Detwiler’s Farm Market east of U.S. 301 — to south of Fruitville Road, encompassing the Oakwood Manor community. That map also covered part of downtown Sarasota and a portion of the Bobby Jones Golf Club property, as well as Kensington Park and a portion of The Meadows.

The county post advised readers, “To learn more about spray time, pesticide applied, and treatment location, please visit Mosquito Management’s Planned Spray Mission Map.

The Health Departments’ news release explained, with emphasis, “Malaria is not transmitted from person to person. Only infected Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit malaria to humans.”

As with the initial case, the release pointed out that the second had been identified as the P. vivax variety of malaria, “which is not as fatal as other species,” the release said. “Effective treatment is readily available through hospitals and other health care providers,” the release added.

Stanford Medicine’s Health Care website explains that that type of malaria occasionally can be severe, but P. vivax infection generally causes “less serious illness.” Nonetheless, the Stanford website adds that “the parasites can remain dormant in the liver for many months, causing a reappearance of symptoms months or even years later.”

Individuals in [the affected areas] with symptoms of fever, chills, sweats, nausea/vomiting, and headache should seek immediate medical attention,” the health departments’ news release stressed.

Protecting yourself against malaria

Further, the health departments are continuing to advise members of the public to “remain diligent in their personal mosquito protection efforts by remembering to ‘Drain and Cover’ ”:

“DRAIN standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.

  • “Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flowerpots, or any other containers where sprinkler or rainwater has collected.
  • “Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used.
  • “Empty and clean birdbaths and [pets’] water bowls at least once or twice a week.
  • “Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
  • “Maintain swimming pools in good condition and keep [them] appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

“COVER skin with clothing or repellent.

  • Clothing — Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved tops or shirts. “This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
  • “Repellent — Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
  • “Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, 2-undecanone, and IR3535 are effective.
  • “Use mosquito netting to protect children” younger than 2 months of age.”
  • “Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children.
  • “In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age appropriate. Mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol should not be used on children under the age of three years.” DEET is not recommended on children younger than two months of age.
  • “Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children.” Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to a child’s skin and clothing.
  • “Apply insect repellent that contains DEET (10-30%), picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, 2-undecanone or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.
  • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin or onto clothing, “but not under clothing.
  • “Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Do not apply permethrin directly to skin. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions.”

Finally, the health departments encourage residents to cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of homes.

“Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios,” the news release said.

“For more information on what repellent is right for you,” the release pointed out, “consider using the Environmental Protection Agency’s search tool to help you choose skin-applied repellent products:”

Other information is available by calling the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (DOH-Sarasota) at 941-861-2873 or DOH Manatee at 941-748-0747.