First Locally Transmitted Cases Of Malaria Found In U.S. In Two Decades
Disease vector mosquito known for dengue, yellow fever and zika virus
Joao Paulo Burini via Getty Images.

For the first time in two decades, people in the U.S. have contracted malaria from mosquitoes inside the country, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a health alert. 

Four individuals in Florida and one person in Texas have contracted the disease in the U.S. from mosquitos, and the CDC said the patients appeared to be in stable condition and health officials were monitoring the situation. 

“All patients have received treatment and are improving. Locally acquired mosquito-borne malaria has not occurred in the United States since 2003 when eight cases of locally acquired P. vivax malaria were identified in Palm Beach County, FL,” the CDC said in a statement.

According to the health agency, malaria, a disease common in tropical African countries, should be treated as a “medical emergency,” but most Americans have an “extremely low” risk of contracting the disease. The sickness is described as having flu-like symptoms, including fevers, shaking, chills, vomiting, body aches, and nausea.

“There is no evidence to suggest the cases in the two states (Florida and Texas) are related. In Florida, four cases within close geographic proximity have been identified, and active surveillance for additional cases is ongoing. Mosquito surveillance and control measures have been implemented in the affected area,” the CDC said. 

In 2020, an estimated 627,000 people died of malaria around the world, with most deaths occurring in impoverished areas. Malaria is most prominent in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, India, and large parts of Indonesia.  

Most cases of malaria in the U.S. involve travelers infected with malaria coming into the U.S., where they are then bitten by a mosquito that passes the parasite on to another person. According to Texas health officials, there are about 120 travel-related malaria cases in the state each year. 


The case in Texas was recorded in Cameron County, located at the southeast tip of the state bordering Mexico. The cases in Florida were in Sarasota County, between Tampa and Fort Myers. 

Before the mid-20th century, malaria was quite common in the U.S. During the Civil War, more than one million Union soldiers came down with the disease, leading to about 10,000 deaths during the conflict, according to some estimates. 

Multiple American presidents also contracted malaria during their lives, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and James Garfield.

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