The risk for transmission of locally acquired malaria is very low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Maryland Department of Health officials confirmed one positive case of locally acquired malaria in a Maryland resident who lives in the National Capital Region.

The National Capital Region includes Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland, according to the Maryland-National Capital Planning Commission.

Mary Anderson, a county public information officer, told MoCo360 that health officials do not identify specifics about the community where the person lives or acquired malaria because it would be “too easy to identical an individual person,” she added that it would go against patient privacy.

“Malaria was once common in the United States, including in Maryland, but we have not seen a case in Maryland that was not related to travel in over 40 years,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Laura Herrera Scott in a press release. “We are taking this very seriously and will work with local and federal health officials to investigate this case.”

The risk for transmission of locally acquired malaria is very low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anderson echoed this sentiment and said those who are concerned can keep an eye out for symptoms.

According to the Maryland Department of Health, symptoms of a malaria infection usually appear seven to 30 days after an infective bite and include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweats
  • Headache
  • Breathing problems
  • Tiredness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough

According to the state health officials, most malaria cases in the United States are brought over from people who traveled internationally from countries where malaria is common such as in tropical and subtropical parts of the world like Central and South America, Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the South Pacific Islands. According to the release, there are around 200 travel-related malaria cases reported each year and the state health department investigates each case.

Officials say the person did not travel outside of the United States or to other U.S. states with recent locally acquired malaria cases but did not say exactly where within the region the individual lives or acquired the infection.

Anderson said that an “outbreak” of locally acquired malaria is not likely, as malaria is not passed on person-to-person. Instead, malaria is a mosquito-borne illness that is passed specifically among female Anopheles mosquitoes that bite a person who is infected with the malaria parasite, called Plasmodium, according to the state health department. Mosquitoes that are infected with malaria spread the parasite by biting other people.


According to the state health department, malaria can cause fluid in the lungs, liver and kidney failure, swelling of the brain, coma and even death. In addition, sometimes symptoms can appear months after and infected bite with certain types of malaria and if not treated properly, some types of malaria can recur for year, officials say.

“Malaria can be very dangerous and even fatal if it is not treated, but early treatment reduces the chances of complications,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman in the release.

In the press release, health officials shared precautions Marylanders can take to prevent mosquito bites and travel-related malaria:

  • Use insect repellent containing diethyltoluamide, or DEET, on exposed skin.
  • If the weather and heat allow, wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing.
  • Keep windows and doors closed or covered with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house.
  • Empty standing water at least once a week to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.
  • Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches and patios.
  • Before traveling, learn about the health risks and precautions for malaria and other diseases for your destination.
  • If you are planning to travel abroad, check with your health care provider for current recommendations on prescription medications to prevent malaria.
  • If you have traveled to an area where malaria transmission occurs more often, and you develop fever, chills, headache, body aches and fatigue, seek urgent medical care and tell your health care provider that you have traveled.

“We urge the public to take precautions against mosquito bites, and if you develop symptoms after traveling abroad, seek urgent medical care,” Kalyanaraman said in the release.

Additional information on malaria is available at and