Malaria is a serious, sometimes fatal, blood disease caused by one of four Plasmodium parasite species (falciparum, vivax, ovale, malariae) and transmitted by the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. The clinical illness is characterized by cyclic fevers and chills. Other clinical features include abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, tachycardia, hypotension, and backache. Plasmodium falciparum causes the most severe illness and is potentially fatal.
During the five-year period 1998-2002, malaria cases were reported in Indiana following international travel to Sub-Saharan Africa, Tropical (northern) South America, Central America, India, the Caribbean (Haiti and Dominican Republic), and parts of Asia. As shown in Figure 1, the number of reported cases per year varied. In 2002, the number of reported cases was highest during the summer months (Figure 2). As shown in Figure 3, age-specific rates were highest for children aged 5-9 years (0.68).
Prior to traveling to malaria-infected areas, travelers should always see a physician to obtain anti-malarial medications to prevent malaria infection. The selection of anti-malarial medications will vary depending on travel destination due to anti-malarial medication resistance in many parts of the world.