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Foreign national dies of malaria after visiting Malawi

05/21/2024 06:56 PM
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A mosquito specimen. File photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control
A mosquito specimen. File photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) A foreign national died of malaria on Monday after traveling to Malawi and entering Taiwan from South Korea last week, the first death from malaria in the country this year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Tuesday.

The death was also only the second from Malaria since 2015, the last occurring in 2023, according the CDC, which raised the travel alert to Malawi to level 1 "Watch," the lowest in the CDC's three-tier travel alert system.

Under the alert, travelers visiting the southeast African country are advised to take precautions, the CDC said in a regular briefing.

The man, in his 40s, entered Taiwan on May 18 and developed shortness of breath, chest tightness and loss of appetite during his stay at a hotel the next day, said CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青).

CDC physician Lin Yung-ching. CNA photo May 21, 2024
CDC physician Lin Yung-ching. CNA photo May 21, 2024

Although it is unknown whether the man had taken anti-malarial medication before traveling, he sought medical attention on Monday but his condition deteriorated rapidly and he died the same day, Lin said.

Suspected malaria parasites were found in the man's body, while follow-up tests confirmed a malignant malaria infection, also known as tropical malaria, according to Lin.

Malaria is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes carrying malaria parasites, Lin said, explaining that the disease can be generally classified into tertian malaria, malignant malaria, quartan malaria, and oval malaria -- with the first two being the most common.

The incubation period for the deadly disease is approximately 7-30 days, and early symptoms resemble those of flu, mainly consisting of a fever, Lin said.

The CDC reminded travelers to malaria-endemic areas to consult a doctor at least one month before departure, as well as take malaria prophylaxis medication continuously before, during, and after the trip.

(By Tseng Yi-ning and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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