Malaria

Cause: Plasmodium species, commonly P. vivax, P. falciparum, P. ovale, and P. malariae.

Illness and treatment: Classic malaria involves recurrent bouts of fever, chills, sweats, and headache. Many other symptoms can occur, affecting the gastrointestinal, respiratory, muscular, and neurological systems. Treatment is with antimalarial drugs and supportive care.

Sources: Transmission occurs by the bite of infected anopheline mosquitoes.

Additional risks: Although rare in the United States, transmission can occur through blood contact (e.g., transfusions or needle-sharing).

Prevention: When traveling in risk areas avoid mosquito bites, take medication to avoid malaria, and receive proper treatment if infected.

Recent Washington trends: Each year there are 20 to 40 reports among tourists, military personnel, business travelers, mission workers, immigrants and refugees.

Purpose of Reporting and Surveillance

  • To contribute adequate case reports to the national database, which in turn gives a better sense of the characteristics of and risk factors for malaria in residents of the United States.
  • To ensure adequate treatment of cases, particularly those with potentially fatal falciparum malaria.
  • To identify other persons exposed who may benefit from screening or treatment, e.g., fellow travelers or recipients of blood products.
  • To identify persons exposed locally and initiate appropriate follow-up.

Legal Reporting Requirements

  • Health care providers: notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 3 business days
  • Health care facilities: notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 3 business days
  • Laboratories: Plasmodium species notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 2 business days; specimen submission is not required but is recommended
  • Local Health Jurisdiction: notifiable to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Communicable Disease Epidemiology (CDE) within 7 days of case investigation completion or summary information required within 21 days.