Brazilian health officials have recently confirmed an ongoing outbreak of locally transmitted malaria in Wenceslau Guimarães municipality (Bahia state). The Secretaria de Saúde da Bahia (SESAB) had reported 22 confirmed cases of the disease, including two deaths, as of Wednesday, January 24; the reported cases have been concentrated in the settlement of Chico Lopes - a rural part of the municipality. The Brazilian Ministry of Health and local health authorities are reportedly taking steps to reduce mosquito populations in the area and curb the spread of the disease (e.g. spraying smoke and insecticide in affected areas, etc.); nonetheless, further spread of the disease is possible to adjacent municipalities in Bahia state in the coming weeks.
Bahia state is generally not considered an area where malaria transmission is endemic; the ongoing outbreak is believed to have begun with the travel of an infected person from Pará state to Bahia state, according to reports from the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, headache, nausea, and body aches. Early symptoms usually appear between ten and 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine but preventive medications are available. Pregnant women, individuals with weakened immune systems (such as those living with HIV), children under the age of five, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the disease.
To minimize the risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, use insect repellent, wear covering clothing, and consider sleeping under mosquito netting if in high-risk areas. If you develop a high fever during or after travel in areas affected by malaria, seek immediate medical attention.