Locally Acquired Malaria Cases Identified in Suffolk County
Albany, August 31 – Suffolk County and New York State Department of Health representatives are investigating two cases of malaria involving 11 year–old boys who attended the Baiting Hollow Boy Scout Camp in Suffolk County. These cases are remarkable in that neither child traveled outside of Suffolk County in the past month.
Malaria is a parasitic infection characterized by intermittent fever, chills and sweating, occurring every two or three days, headache and nausea. The disease is transmitted by the anopheline mosquito which exists in Suffolk County and elsewhere in New York State. However, locally–acquired cases of malaria are rare.
An investigation by Suffolk County Health Department representatives revealed that both boys attended Baiting Hollow Boy Scout Camp in Calverton on the north shore of Suffolk County between August 1 – 7, 1999. Mosquito trapping by the county has confirmed the presence of anopheline mosquitoes, the insect vector for malaria. These mosquitoes generally bite at dusk and the first few hours of the evening.
"I want to reassure parents that unless their children have experienced fever within two weeks of attending the camp, there is little reason to worry," State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D. said. "However, I also want to stress that even though this is a very unusual situation, the State Health Department is working hand–in–hand with Suffolk County health officials to trace any other possible cases and make sure that the problem is solved. As with any time their child has a fever, parents should be concerned but not unduly alarmed."
Dr. Clare Bradley, Suffolk County Health Commissioner, said, "There is no reason for panic. Both boys are doing well. The County is intensifying the monitoring program and mosquito control operation. Ground and aerial spraying of insecticides are being resorted to as the need arises."
County and State health department officials have advised the boy scout camp officials to inform the parents of all scouts who used the Baiting Hollow facility in July and August that malaria has occurred and to consult a doctor if their child develops a fever. Health officials have expressed appreciation to scout camp representatives who are cooperating fully in the investigation.
A bulletin also was sent to hospitals on Long Island advising them to consider the possibility of malaria in anyone presenting with unexplained fever. Malaria can be diagnosed by a blood test and can be effectively treated.
To minimize the possibility of further infection, health officials are recommending the postponement of any recreational activities in the camp for a few weeks until the mosquito infestation is brought under control.
For further information, please call Suffolk County Division of Public Health at (516) 853–3055 or the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Communicable Disease Control at (518) 473–4439.
A Fact Sheet on malaria follows.