The majority of malaria infections in the United States occur among persons who have traveled to areas with ongoing malaria transmission. This report summarizes cases in persons with onset of illness in 2005 and summarizes trends during previous years. Created: 6/8/2007 by MMWR.
Date Released: 7/20/2007. Series Name: A Cup of Health with CDC.
A CUP OF HEALTH WITH CDC
Malaria: Prevention is the Best Defense
Malaria Surveillance—United States, 2005
July 20, 2007
[Announcer] This podcast is presented by the Centers for Disease Control and
– safer, healthier people.
[Matthew Reynolds] Welcome to A Cup of Health with CDC, a weekly broadcast
MMWR, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. I’m your host, Matthew
You may not think of malaria as a health problem in the United States, but
happen. It’s a very serious illness that can be deadly. If you’re
traveling to a country
where malaria is common, there are medicines you can take to prevent malaria
other safety measures you can use to protect your health.
Today, I’ll be talking with Dr. Julie Thwing, a research physician with
the CDC Malaria
Branch. Dr. Thwing is the lead author of a recently published article about
how often malaria is reported in the United States, and she’s here to
tell us more about
that. Welcome to the show, Dr. Thwing.
[Dr. Julie Thwing] Thanks so much for having me. It’s great to be here.
[Matthew Reynolds] Dr. Thwing, we don’t hear much about malaria in the
States. Can you describe what it is and how many people in the U.S. are affected
[Dr. Julie Thwing] Malaria is basically a disease caused by a blood parasite.
serious and can be fatal, and in the U.S. somewhere between 1,300 and 1,500
are reported to the CDC each year as being diagnosed with it.
[Matthew Reynolds] Are there groups of people, the young or elderly, for example,
who are at greater risk of contracting malaria?
[Dr. Julie Thwing] Well, actually, unlike most of the diseases that we talk
about and are
concerned about at the CDC, malaria is an equal opportunity offender. It really
people in the prime of their lives, as well as the young and the elderly. It’s
who travels to an area where malaria is common is at risk for it.
[Matthew Reynolds] So how is someone infected with malaria and what are the
[Dr. Julie Thwing] Well, the way that you develop malaria is, if you go to
where malaria is common and an infected mosquito bites you, it injects the
your blood stream. The parasite then goes straight to your liver, where it
8-14 days developing. After it’s finished developing, it then exits the
liver and goes into
your red blood cells, which is when you get symptoms. The symptoms of malaria
chiefly very high spiking fevers and shaking chills. Most people also get body
head aches, neck stiffness, sometimes vomiting, belly pain – it really
feels like a horrible
[Matthew Reynolds] The July 2007 issue of National Geographic brings attention
rise of malaria and details the efforts among scientists over the years to
find a vaccine.
Is there hope on the horizon for a cure?
[Dr. Julie Thwing] That’s a really great question. Actually, the CDC
was started back
during World War II in effort to control malaria in the U.S. Malaria was a
big problem in
the U.S., especially in the South, until about the 1950s. Fortunately, it has
eradicated in the U.S., and the only malaria we see is malaria being brought
other parts of the world. Scientists have been working, actually for over a
find medicines against malaria and for many decades now to find a vaccine.
been a lot of strategies attempted in efforts to find a vaccine for malaria.
None has really
been completely successful yet, but there are a lot of potentially promising
out there. So, I think we’re still a long ways away from a vaccine, but
there are definitely
a lot of people working on it, and making headway. As far as curing an individual
episode of malaria, even though there is increasing resistance to the drugs
that we use,
we still have a lot of medicines at our disposal, and scientists are working
[Matthew Reynolds] What’s your advice to someone traveling to a country
malaria is common?
[Dr. Julie Thwing] Well, the most important thing to do is to go see a doctor
and to find
out what you need to do to prepare for that travel. As far as preventing malaria,
thing to do is to take preventive medicines. There are several very good options
preventive medicine that can be taken while you’re traveling that will,
if taken properly,
prevent almost every episode of malaria. You can also do things such as wear
shirts if the mosquitoes are thick, use insect repellant, and sleep under a
These will all prevent exposure to mosquito bites. When the traveler gets back
U.S., if they do get sick, it’s very important to seek medical attention
and let the doctor
who is treating you know that you’ve been to a malarious area.
[Matthew Reynolds] Where can our listeners get more information about malaria?
[Dr. Julie Thwing] Well, the CDC publishes The Yellow Book with health information
for travelers. It’s available on the CDC web site for travelers, along
with other important
information about travel to other countries. You can call 1-800-CDC-INFO or
go to the
web site, which is www.cdc.gov/travel/, to find out if the places where you’re
present a risk of malaria.
[Matthew Reynolds]: Dr. Thwing, thank you for sharing this information with
our listeners today.
[Dr. Julie Thwing] Thanks so much, Matthew. It was my pleasure to be here.
[Matthew Reynolds] That’s it for this week’s show. Don’t
forget to join us next week.
Until then, be well. This is Matthew Reynolds for A Cup of Health with CDC.
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family and your community, please visit www.cdc.gov.