Even after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued health advisories last week, it’s unlikely anyone in Utah will catch malaria after five people in the United States recently contracted malaria.
But an official with the Salt Lake City Mosquito Control District said the state is dealing with more mosquitoes than it recently remembered, probably because of this year’s abundance of snow and spring rains, which have added to the standing water. The eradication team “has been busy finding and treating the source of the mosquitoes.”
How long will there be mosquitoes? Salt Lake City alone has nearly doubled its population this year compared to the region’s average for the past five years, according to surveillance, and mosquito season is still months away.
How is malaria spread?
The type of mosquito that carries malaria is called the Anopheles mosquito and is rare in Utah. The entire state is home to many species of mosquitoes, including a native species of Anopheles mosquito called Anopheles fleabornii. But that number is low, said Greg White, deputy director of the Salt Lake City Mosquito Control District.
For example, during a recent surveillance operation, the abatement district captured 68,752 adults from 36 different locations across Salt Lake City, but only 25 Anopheles mosquitoes were identified.
“Malaria is highly unlikely to be transmitted to humans because the disease is not endemic within the state and must be transmitted through infected human travelers,” White said.
In addition to causing fever, chills, headaches and vomiting, malaria can also cause seizures and, in severe cases, death, according to the CDC. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 247 million cases were recorded worldwide in 2021, mostly in tropical and subtropical climates, resulting in about 619,000 deaths.
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For malaria to spread locally, an infected person would have to be bitten by an anopheles mosquito in Utah. The mosquito needs to live for about two weeks, enough for the malaria-causing parasite to migrate back into the insect’s saliva.
Hannah Lettler, a zoonotic disease and vector-borne epidemiologist at the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, said that same mosquito would have to bite another person to transmit the disease.
Although Anopheles species have been detected in Utah since the early 1900s, Lettler said the state has not documented any local cases of malaria to date.
“Having said that, our DHHS team, together with mosquito-free districts, local health departments and other partners, regularly conducts surveys to investigate possible risks of disease transmission that may occur. I am contacting,” she said.
What should I do if I plan to travel?
It remains important for people traveling to malaria-prone areas to take recommended malaria prophylaxis to protect themselves and avoid carrying the disease back to Utah, the association said. spokesman Nicholas Rapp said. Salt Lake County Health Department. CDC has a list of information travelers should know about malaria prevention.
Five cases reported in the United States this year were diagnosed within the past two months, according to the CDC. Four were in Florida and one in Texas.
Rapp said Utah records an average of seven cases of malaria each year, all acquired through out-of-state travel. That’s why it’s important to be aware of post-travel symptoms, especially for those who aren’t taking antimalarial drugs, he said.
The small number of Anopheles mosquitoes in Utah typically bite early in the morning (around 3 a.m. to 5 a.m.) and in the evening (around 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.), Lettler said.
If you have to go out during that time, consider wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and open-toed shoes, as well as worms containing 20-30% DEET, which are safe for use during pregnancy. Consider wearing repellent, said Lettler. Repellents are not recommended for children under 2 months of age.
Where possible, it is also generally recommended to wear longer layers with a water-repellent finish throughout the day to reduce exposure risk.
West Nile virus remains a concern
West Nile virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States and is of great concern in Utah. Although frequently reported each year in the Salt Lake Valley, the CDC estimates that less than 1% of people infected with the West Nile will develop neuroinvasive disease, “which can lead to debilitating long-term complications and death.” There is,” Rapp said.
In 2022, Utah had five cases of neuroinvasive West Nile virus, none fatal. In 2021, 3 of 21 neuroinvasive cases in Utah died from the virus.
According to the CDC, an estimated 70% to 80% of West Nile infections are asymptomatic. However, symptoms such as fever, headache and body aches may occur and usually appear within 2-14 days after exposure. Nerve-invasive infections can cause neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, or coma. West Nile fever is not transmitted from person to person and there is no treatment for the infection other than treating symptoms.
That’s why it’s still important for people to minimize exposure during the mosquito season, which typically lasts from around spring through early fall in Utah, Rapp said. He advised people to clear roof gutters of debris, clean pools frequently, cut tall grass short, and keep doors and window screens in good condition to keep out mosquitoes.
Lettler recommended removing standing water from pet utensils, flower pots, buckets, tarpaulins, tires, and other items that may have pooled on the property.
If there is standing water or a high concentration of mosquitoes, you can report it to your local mosquito control district. For a list of such districts, please visit umaa.org.
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