The Department of Health reports a travel-related case of malaria in Hawaii
Published on October 17, 2023 in Editorial office
HONOLULU – The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) has received a report of a case of travel-related malaria in Honolulu County. A person diagnosed with malaria has recently traveled to a country where malaria is common. The case was investigated by the Department of Outbreak Control and a site assessment by the Vector Control Branch is pending. There is generally no risk of transmission in Hawaii because the type of mosquito that can transmit malaria to humans is not known to be present in the state.
Separately, the CDC reported one case of locally acquired malaria in the capital region in August 2023. This is an add-on reports in June of locally acquired malaria cases in Sarasota County, Fla. and Cameron County, Texas. Before these cases, the last locally transmitted case of mosquito-borne malaria in the United States was in 2003. There is no evidence that the cases in the affected counties or in Hawaii are connected. These cases do not increase the risk of local transmission in the country or to other areas outside the notified districts.
Malaria is a unique mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite transmitted by female anopheles mosquitoes that are often found in tropical and subtropical areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Oceania such as Papua New Guinea. Anopheles mosquitoes are not found in Hawaii. Malaria is not transmitted from person to person and is not sexually transmitted. The incubation period is usually from seven to 30 days.
Symptoms of malaria can include fever, chills, headache, myalgia and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur. For most people, symptoms begin 10 days to four weeks after infection, although a person may feel sick as early as seven days or even a year after infection. If not treated immediately, malaria can progress to a severe, life-threatening disease. Antimalarials are available and can be taken for treatment.
If you have traveled to any place where there is local transmission of malaria and have symptoms of malaria, you are advised to seek immediate medical attention for evaluation. Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel history. The disease is diagnosed with a laboratory test that can be ordered by your doctor.
Avoiding mosquito bites is the best practice for preventing mosquito-borne diseases. Prevention of mosquito bites includes wearing light-colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using insect repellent, keeping windows or doors closed or covered with nets to keep mosquitoes out of your living space. Prevent stagnant water from collecting around your home and workplace to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.