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Malaria Cases Hit 40-year High in US

The number of malaria cases in the United States has reached a 40-year high, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2011, 1,925 malaria cases were reported in the United States, according to data published in a supplement of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Thursday by the CDC. It was the highest number of cases since 1971 and represents a 14 percent increase from 2010.

“Malaria isn’t something many doctors see frequently in the United States thanks to successful malaria elimination efforts in the 1940s,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D, M.P.H. “The increase in malaria cases reminds us that Americans remain vulnerable and must be vigilant against diseases like malaria because our world is so interconnected by travel.”

Almost all of the malaria cases reported in the U.S. were acquired overseas. More than two-thirds of the cases were imported from Africa, and nearly two-thirds of those were acquired in West Africa. For the first time, India was the country from which the most cases were imported. Cases showed seasonal peaks in January and August.

Malaria is caused by a parasite transmitted by the bite of an infective female Anopheles mosquito. In 2010, it caused an estimated 660,000 deaths and 219 million cases globally. The signs and symptoms of malaria illness are varied, but the majority of patients have fever.

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