Human malaria is a disease caused by infection of 4 parasitic protozoan species that have a complex life cycle requiring mosquitoes as one of the hosts. Currently, human malaria kills at least 2 million people annually throughout the world. In Florida, malaria is usually confined to imported cases from residents who have returned form international travels. However, the vectors for malaria are still found in Florida and the possibility for malarial reestablishment exists.
Malaria is now rare in the U.S., but it was once the major scourge of Florida, occurring in all 67 counties. Mosquito control efforts contributed to a large reduction in malaria for Florida during the 1930’s and 1940’s.
In humans, the symptoms of malaria will depend on the malaria species. The initial attack may start with lethargy, headache, anorexia, occasional nausea, and vomiting. The fever that occurs is comprised of a cold stage (shivering and a feeling of intense cold), a hot stage (distressing heat, dryness, burning, intense headache, nausea, and vomiting), and a profuse sweating phase. A typical attack often lasts 8 to 12 hours. There is no vaccine.