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Malaria Primer for Clinicians in the United States

Gregory H. Bledsoe, MD, MPH
Volume: 98 Issue: 12 December, 2005

Abstract:

Though low, the incidence of malaria in the United States is not insignificant and can be the source of infection in febrile travelers returning from endemic areas. Clinicians practicing in the United States must have a basic understanding of the malaria life cycle and its treatments to properly diagnose and treat this potentially fatal disease. Malaria chemotherapy can be broken into clinical classes for easier understanding, and any traveler to a malaria-endemic region should be placed on prophylactic medications. Mosquito bite prevention should be undertaken by all travelers, and methods of deterring mosquito bites should be understood.


Key Points


* In the United States, there are approximately 1,400 cases of malaria reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every year, most of which are in travelers returning from malaria-endemic regions.


* Clinicians must maintain a high level of suspicion to correctly diagnose malaria.


* An understanding of the Plasmodium life cycle and current treatment protocols are necessary to facilitate proper and timely treatment of patients with malaria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain a malaria hotline to assist with malaria treatment.


* All travelers to malaria endemic regions should be placed on appropriate chemoprophylaxis.


* Mosquito bite prevention is still an important component of disease prevention.

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