Malaria is one of the world's greatest public health problems.
Approximately 350-500 million of the world's population are infected each year
and over one million people die from malaria annually. It is caused by
four species of protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium: P.
falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae, and P. ovale and is
transmitted by Anopheles species mosquitoes.
Plasmodium falciparum attacking blood cells and Anopheles mosquito
Symptoms of malaria depend on the Plasmodium species, but in most
cases develop between seven and thirty days after the bite of an infected
mosquito. P. vivax can develop up to a year after exposure.
Commonly, people experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, sweats,
headache, nausea and vomiting, body aches, and general malaise. P.
falciparum can cause severe and life-threatening disease.
P. falciparum and P. vivax were previously present in Florida,
but local transmission has occurred only rarely in recent years, likely due to
mosquito control measures, improved housing with screens, use of repellents, and
drainage practices. A number of malaria cases are reported in immigrant
and travelers to areas where malaria risk is high. There are 14
Anopheles mosquito species in Florida, all of which are potentially capable
of transmitting malaria. An. quadrimaculatus and An. crucians
have been major malaria vectors in the past. Since introduction from
endemic areas occurs regularly and competent vectors exist in the state, local
transmission is possible. The largest outbreak in recent Florida history
occurred in Palm Beach County in 2003 where there were eight cases.
In 2008, 65 cases of imported malaria were reported in Florida.
Eighty-six percent of cases were diagnosed with the most severe form, P.
falciparum and 11% were diagnosed with P. vivax. One case was
diagnosed with P. ovale and the species was unable to be determined for
one case. Sixty-nine percent of cases were non-white, 28% were white, and
the remaining were of unknown race. The average age of reported cases in
Florida is 39.4 years. Thirty-eight percent of cases had
recent travel history to Haiti, 26% travled to Nigera, 23% traveled to another
African country, 9% traveled to Central or South America, and the remaining 3%
traveled to countries in Asia.
Travelers to high malaria risk countries should talk to their healthcare
provider about malaria prophylaxis and should take personal mosquito control
measures. Immigrants returning to their home country may be at increased
risk for malaria. More information can be found at
Travelers Visiting Friends and Relatives.
Map of Malaria-Endemic Areas from CDC
Mosquito-borne disease prevention tips
Malaria Fact Sheet for Immigrants
(33 KB PDF)
Spanish version (32 KB PDF)
Malaria Fact Sheet for Haitian Immigrants
(34 KB PDF)
Creole version (31 KB PDF)
Malaria at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
WHO 2011 World Malaria Report
Laboratory Instructions for County Health Departments (71 KB PDF)
MMWR. Local Transmission of Plasmodium vivax Malaria - Palm Beach
County, Florida, 2003.