Two more locally acquired malaria cases reported in Sarasota County

Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee issues statewide alert

During the afternoon of Monday, June 26, the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee issued a statewide mosquito-borne illness advisory in the aftermath of what it said were four confirmed and recovered local cases of malaria in Sarasota County.

Last week, the department noted that two cases had been reported and confirmed.

“All individuals have been treated and have recovered,” the state Health Department added on June 26, with emphasis.

The department’s Arbovirus Surveillance report for the week of June 18 through June 24 included the information about the two new “locally acquired” cases of malaria in Sarasota County.

“Malaria is transmitted through infected mosquitoes,” the department’s June 26 advisory pointed out. “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.

“The Department continues to work closely with local partners and county mosquito control,” the advisory added. “Aerial and ground mosquito spraying continues to be conducted in these areas to mitigate the risk of further transmission,” the state Health Department said.

The Sarasota County Government Facebook page on June 26 provided information about the latest spraying that the county’s Mosquito Management staff has conducted: “Ground (truck) treatment to kill adult mosquitoes is scheduled for tonight after 8:45 p.m. in Englewood. Area of treatment is west of [State Road] 776, between Bayshore Drive and Dearborn Street …

“To learn more about spray time, pesticide applied, and treatment location,” the post added, “please visit Mosquito Management’s Planned Spray Mission Map.”

On June 27, the Facebook page featured this information: “Aerial (plane) treatments to kill adult mosquitoes are scheduled for tonight after 8:45 p.m.” in Venice and North Port. The Venice area was located east of U.S. 41, between Lucaya Avenue and Center Road, the post noted. The North Port area encompassed East River Road.

Further, the post said, “Ground (truck) treatment is scheduled for tonight after 8:45 p.m. in Venice/Englewood.” Area of treatment is west of [State Road] 776,” between Flamingo Road and Fifth Street. “Completion of the mission will be weather permitting,” the post explained.

Last week, after the second county case was confirmed, The Sarasota News Leader reported that the county government Facebook page also provided maps showing areas where aerial mosquito spraying was planned, weather permitting, after 10 p.m. that day. That 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 depicted 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.

In its June 26 advisory, the Florida Department of Health added, again with emphasis, “In Florida, Malaria is transmitted through infected Anopheles mosquitoes. The cause of malaria in these [Sarasota County] cases has been identified as the Plasmodium vivax species. Effective treatment is readily available through hospitals and other health care providers. Individuals in this area with symptoms of fever, chills, sweats, nausea/vomiting, and headache should seek immediate medical attention.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, “For most people, symptoms begin 10 days to 4 weeks after infection, although a person may feel ill as early as 7 days or as late as 1 year later. Two kinds of malaria, P. vivax and P. ovale, can occur again (relapsing malaria). In P. vivax and P. ovale infections, some parasites can remain dormant in the liver for several months up to about 4 years after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. When these parasites come out of hibernation and begin invading red blood cells (‘relapse’), the person will become sick.”

In response to a frequently asked question about how a person can know for sure whether he or she has malaria, the CDC explains, Most people, at the beginning of the disease, have fever, sweats, chills, headaches, malaise, muscles aches, nausea, and vomiting. Malaria can very rapidly become a severe and life-threatening disease. The surest way for you and your health-care provider to know whether you have malaria is to have a diagnostic test where a drop of your blood is examined under the microscope for the presence of malaria parasites. If you are sick and there is any suspicion of malaria (for example, if you have recently traveled in a country where malaria transmission occurs), the test should be performed without delay.”

CDC collaboration with state health officials

Early this month on  its website, the CDC did note the first Sarasota County malaria case: “The Florida Department of Health (DOH) and CDC are collaborating on an investigation of a sporadic local case of Plasmodium vivax malaria in Sarasota County, FL. The patient was promptly treated at a hospital and is recovering. 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. In 2003 there were 8 cases of locally acquired P. vivax malaria identified in Palm Beach County, FL.

Florida DOH 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. They have conducted both aerial and truck spraying in the general area where the individual lives. State and local public health professionals have communicated to area clinicians and the public to raise awareness and provide guidance.”

On another section of its website, the CDC offers its explanation about how people contract malaria:

Usually, people get malaria by being bitten by an infective female Anopheles mosquito. Only Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit malaria and they must have been infected through a previous blood meal taken from an infected person. When a mosquito bites an infected person, a small amount of blood is taken in which contains microscopic malaria parasites. About 1 week later, when the mosquito takes its next blood meal, these parasites mix with the mosquito’s saliva and are injected into the person being bitten.”

Additionally, the CDC points out on its website, “About 2,000 cases of malaria 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 CDC explains that the disease is not contagious. “Malaria is not spread from person to person like a cold or the flu, and it cannot be sexually transmitted. You cannot get malaria from casual contact with malaria-infected people, such as sitting next to someone who has malaria.”

Protection against infection

The Florida Department of Health also is advising members of the public to protect themselves against mosquito-borne diseases 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.