State verifies no new malaria cases since July 13

If trend continues, outbreak to be considered over around Sept. 7

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

The most recent reports on mosquito-borne illnesses in Florida, released by the Department of Health in Tallahassee, continue to note no new cases of malaria in Sarasota County, The Sarasota News Leader has found.

As reported in our July 28 issue, the last case was identified on July 13, bringing the total to seven since the first infection of a person in the county was confirmed on May 24.

During a news media briefing that Sarasota County Communications Director Jamie Carson hosted on July 27, Carson explained that, based on health officials’ understanding of the transmission of malaria by mosquitoes, the end of the county outbreak would be marked around Sept. 7 — provided no new cases are identified before then.

As county staff and representatives of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have pointed out, all of the cases in the county have been characterized as having been locally acquired. In other words, the people who contracted malaria had not traveled outside the area before they became ill. Malaria is much more common in other parts of the world.

During the July 27 media briefing, Audrey Lenhart, chief of the Entomology Branch in the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria at the CDC, said, “I think that every day that goes by without a new case is promising.”

The eight-week timeline Carson had noted in her comments is sufficient to make certain that all of the mosquitoes carrying malaria have died or been killed, Lenhart added.

All of the persons who have been infected were in the Kensington Park and Desoto Acres areas, so those have remained the primary focus of concern, Carson pointed out.

In a check of the county’s Facebook page on Aug. 8, the News Leader found only one new report about mosquito spraying at a county location. On the night of Aug. 8, Mosquito Management Services planned to conduct spraying after 9 p.m. in Venice, between Seafox Road and Scenic Drive.