Malaria surveillance--United States, 2004.MMWR Surveill Summ. 2006 May 26; 55(4):23-37.MS
Malaria in humans is caused by any of four species of intraerythrocytic protozoa of the genus Plasmodium (i.e., P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, or P. malariae). These parasites are transmitted by the bite of an infective female Anopheles sp. 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 mosquitoborne 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 2004 and summarizes trends during previous years.
DESCRIPTION OF SYSTEM
Malaria cases confirmed by blood film 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). Data from NMSS serve as the basis for this report.
CDC received reports of 1,324 cases of malaria, including four fatal cases, with an onset of symptoms in 2004 among persons in the United States or one of its territories. This number represents an increase of 3.6% from the 1,278 cases reported for 2003. P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae, and P. ovale were identified in 49.6%, 23.8%, 3.6%, and 2.0% of cases, respectively. Seventeen patients (1.3% of total) were infected by two or more species. The infecting species was unreported or undetermined in 262 (19.8%) cases. Compared with 2003, the number of reported malaria cases acquired in the Americas (n = 173) increased 17.7%, whereas the number of cases acquired in Asia (n = 172) and Africa (n = 809) decreased 2.8% and 3.7%, respectively. Of 775 U.S. civilians who acquired malaria abroad, only 160 (20.6%) reported that they had followed a chemoprophylactic drug regimen recommended by CDC for the area to which they had traveled. Four patients became infected in the United States; three cases were attributed to congenital transmission and one to laboratory-related mosquitoborne transmission. Four deaths were attributed to malaria, including two caused by P. falciparum, one by P. vivax, and one by a mixed infection with P. falciparum and P. malariae.
The 3.6% increase in malaria cases in 2004, compared with 2003, resulted primarily from an increase in the number of cases acquired in the Americas but was offset by a decrease in the number of cases acquired in Africa and Asia. This limited increase might reflect local changes in disease transmission, increased travel to regions in which malaria is endemic, or fluctuations in reporting to state and local health departments. These changes likely reflect expected variation in annual reporting and should not be interpreted as indicating a longer-term trend. In the majority of reported cases, U.S. civilians who acquired infection abroad had not adhered to a chemoprophylaxis regimen that was appropriate for the country in which they acquired malaria.
PUBLIC HEALTH ACTIONS
Additional investigations were conducted for the four fatal cases and four infections acquired in the United States. Persons traveling to a malarious area should take one of the recommended chemoprophylaxis regimens appropriate for the region of travel and use personal protection measures to prevent mosquito bites. Any person who has been to a malarious area and who subsequently has a fever or influenza-like symptoms should seek medical care immediately and report their travel history to the clinician; investigation should include a blood-film test for malaria. Malaria infections can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated promptly. Recommendations concerning malaria prevention can be obtained from CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/travel or by calling the Malaria Hotline at telephone 770-488-7788. Recommendations concerning malaria treatment can be obtained at http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/diagnosis_treatment/treatment.htm or by calling the Malaria Hotline.