ABSTRACT: Malaria in humans is caused by intraerythrocytic protozoa of the genus Plasmodium. These parasites are transmitted by the bite of an infective female Anopheles mosquito. The majority of malaria infections in the United States occur among persons who have traveled to areas with ongoing malaria transmission. In the United States, cases can occur through exposure to infected blood products, congenital transmission, or local mosquito-borne transmission. Malaria surveillance is conducted to identify episodes of local transmission and to guide prevention recommendations for travelers.
This report summarizes cases in persons with onset of illness in 2010 and summarizes trends during previous years.
Malaria cases diagnosed by blood film, polymerase chain reaction, or rapid diagnostic tests are mandated to be reported to local and state health departments by health-care providers or laboratory staff. Case investigations are conducted by local and state health departments, and reports are transmitted to CDC through the National Malaria Surveillance System (NMSS), National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS), or direct CDC consults. Data from these reporting systems serve as the basis for this report.
CDC received 1,691 reported cases of malaria, including 1,688 cases classified as imported, one transfusion-related case, and two cryptic cases, with an onset of symptoms in 2010 among persons in the United States. The total number of cases represents an increase of 14% from the 1,484 cases reported for 2009. Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae, and P. ovale were identified in 58%, 19%, 2%, and 2% of cases, respectively. Thirteen patients were infected by two or more species. The infecting species was unreported or undetermined in 18% of cases. Among the 898 cases in U.S. civilians for whom information on chemoprophylaxis use and travel area was known, 45 (5%) reported that they had followed and adhered to a chemoprophylactic drug regimen recommended by CDC for the areas to which they had traveled. Forty-one cases were reported in pregnant women, among whom only two (5%) adhered to chemoprophylaxis. Among all reported cases, 176 (10%) were classified as severe infections, of which nine were fatal.
The number of cases reported in 2010 marked the largest number of cases reported since 1980. Despite the apparent progress in reducing the global burden of malaria, many areas remain malaria endemic and the use of appropriate prevention measures by travelers is still inadequate.
Travelers visiting friends and relatives (VFR) continue to be a difficult population to reach with effective malaria prevention strategies. Evidence-based prevention strategies that effectively target VFR travelers need to be developed and implemented to have a substantial impact on the numbers of imported malaria cases in the United States. A large number of pregnant travelers diagnosed with malaria did not take any chemoprophylaxis. Pregnant women traveling to areas in which malaria is endemic are at higher risk for severe malaria and must use appropriate malaria prevention strategies including chemoprophylaxis. Malaria prevention recommendations are available online (http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/travelers/drugs.html). Malaria infections can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated promptly with antimalarial medications appropriate for the patient's age and medical history, the likely country of malaria acquisition, and previous use of antimalarial chemoprophylaxis. Clinicians should consult the CDC Guidelines for Treatment of Malaria and contact the CDC's Malaria Hotline for case management advice, when needed. Malaria treatment recommendations can be obtained online (http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/diagnosis_treatment) or by calling the Malaria Hotline (770-488-7788 or toll-free at 855-856-4713).
MMWR. Surveillance summaries: Morbidity and mortality weekly report. Surveillance summaries / CDC 03/2012; 61(2):1-17.