Nebraska doctor says international travelers should take malaria precautions

Posted at 5:43 PM, Jul 06, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Malaria is caused by a parasite spread by mosquitoes. The risk of acquiring it in the United States is very low; but recently, five locally acquired cases in Florida and Texas have medical professionals talking about prevention and awareness of the disease. Those "locally acquired" patients got malaria from a mosquito bite in the U.S. as opposed to contracting the disease abroad before traveling to the U.S., which is more common.

Nebraska Methodist Health System infectious disease physician, Dr. Rudolph Kotula, wants international travelers to take precautions to avoid contracting malaria, especially if traveling to tropical climates. He says a lot of people from the Omaha area travel to places like Central America, where the disease can be found.

“It’s very important, if you embark on an international trip, whether it's Central America … Latin America, and specifically, Africa — to seek travel advice and get proper malaria prevention; get proper advice for international travelers, what kind of diseases to look for and just have a safe trip,” said Kotula.

He recommends using a mosquito repellent containing DEET and taking malaria pills to prevent contracting the disease, which can cause serious — even life-threatening — health problems.

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