Malaria cases on the rise in troops in Afghanistan
In 2011, there were 124 cases among American troops, 91 of which were diagnosed in Afghanistan. The number of cases in Afghanistan was much higher than the number acquired in tropical regions of Haiti and Africa, where U.S. troops have been providing assistance, Marine Corps Times reports.
"Unfortunately, after 10 years of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, and despite the availability of effective prevention measures and a long organizational history of fighting the disease, malaria remains a threat to U.S. forces and their operations in Afghanistan," Mark Fukuda, a doctor with the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center's malaria surveillance program, said, according to Marine Corps Times.
Of the other cases of malaria reported, 24 were diagnosed in Africa, four in South Korea and five were of an unknown origin. No U.S. service members died as a result of the illness. The report stated that potential reasons for a jump in Afghanistan include the 30,000 troops who arrived there in 2011 and an improved reporting and diagnostic system.
Fukuda said that other military forces have been more successful at preventing malaria by combining anti-malaria tablets with other prevention methods such as insecticide treated mosquito nets and DEET-based repellant.
"No single method is 100 percent," Laura Pacha, a lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Army Public Health Command's disease epidemiology program, said, according to Marine Corps Times. "You really do have to implement the full spectrum of prevention measures."