CDC reports highest U.S. malaria prevalence in more than 40 years

Malaria prevalence in the U.S. is at its highest in more than 40 years and has increased by 14 percent since 2010, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released on Thursday.

The data, published in a supplement of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, reported that in 2011, there were 1,925 cases of malaria in the U.S. This number was the highest the nation had seen since 1971.

Almost all of the cases reported in the U.S. were attained overseas during travels. More than two-thirds of the cases reported were traced to Africa, and primarily West Africa. India was the country responsible for the most cases of malaria imported to the U.S of any country in 2011.

"Malaria isn't something many doctors see frequently in the United States thanks to successful malaria elimination efforts in the 1940s," CDC Director Tom Frieden said. "The increase in malaria cases reminds us that Americans remain vulnerable and must be vigilant against diseases like malaria because our world is so interconnected by travel."

The CDC asks that travelers with plans to visit a nation with known malaria prevalence to take precautions against contracting the disease, which caused an estimated 660,000 deaths worldwide in 2010. The disease is preventable through antimalarial drugs and measures to decrease the risk of mosquito bites.

"Malaria is preventable," CDC Director of the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria Laurence Slutsker said. "In most cases, these illnesses and deaths could have been avoided by taking recommended precautions. We have made great strides in preventing and controlling malaria around the world. However, malaria persists in many areas and the use of appropriate prevention measures by travelers is still very important."