Malaria is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the world, making mosquitoes the most deadly animals in the world. Although most Americans assume that malaria is not a threat to people living in North America, it should be known that the disease is not limited to the continent of Africa. An American traveling in the western pacific region or within some South American countries, like Costa Rica, are at risk of malaria infection. In fact, in 2017, 219 million malaria cases were reported in 90 different countries worldwide. In an effort to prevent malaria infection, the governments of numerous countries contribute funding to malaria research. In 2017, 3.1 billion dollars was spent on malaria research, 900 million of which was donated by the American Government.
Malaria is contracted when a mosquito transmits certain parasites to humans via their bite. There exists five different parasite species that cause malaria, but most cases are caused by only two species which are commonly acquired in Africa, Asia, the middle east and the Americas. Considering the commonality of malaria in certain popular tourist destinations, and the United State’s close proximity to some regions where malaria-carrying mosquitoes exist, US medical officials are well educated on the nature of the disease. Malaria is considered a serious threat to American soldiers stationed around the world, particularly in north Africa and the tropics.
Back in 2003, 200 Marine soldiers contracted malaria while stationed in the west African country of Liberia. Forty three of these soldiers were ill enough to be hospitalized. Fortunately, none of the infected soldiers died, but two developed “cerebral malaria” which is the most dangerous form of malaria and kills 20 percent of all people it infects. It is still unknown as to how the soldiers contracted malaria in spite of taking the required preventative anti-malarial drugs. It is likely that an insufficient amount of the drug had been present in the soldiers’ bloodstream.
Do you think that climate change will bring malaria-infected mosquitoes into the USA?