Health officials in the Bahamas are confident that the recent malaria outbreak on Great Exuma in the Out Islands is under control and that the Anopheles mosquito has been contained and there have been no new infections or cases since June 14, according to Dr. Baldwin Carey, director of public health for the Bahamas.

Carey said that the outbreak, first reported on June 6, was limited to a very defined area of Georgetown, the capital. The 18 cases were contacted in late May by a pool of people who come from areas where malaria is endemic.

Bahamian health officials have reported that local transmissions of malaria on Exuma have been interrupted, and we are in the surveillance and mop-up modes now, the director said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its malaria outbreak alert for Great Exuma on June 16 and advised Americans planning to visit Great Exuma in the next few weeks to take prophylactic chloroquine as a preventative measure. There were no advisories posted for any other Bahamas island.

Once an alert is posted, the CDC does not lift it for at least six weeks, Carey said.  However, we have been assured by the CDC, the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization that the measures [that] the Ministry of Health is undertaking are aggressive, proper, more than sufficient, and appear to be successful.

The Bahamas environmental health team continues its mosquito control activities on Great Exuma, which include fogging in the airport area, natural ponds and other areas with large water collections.

We routinely spray to reduce the mosquito population during the summer rainy season, Carey said. Weve had more rain than normal this season and more mosquitoes, but those mosquitoes are not related to the Anopheles mosquito associated with malaria.

Bahamas health officials also are continuing a surveillance and prevention program as well to determine the source of infection.

The malaria incident has had no effect on tourism to Great Exuma, according to officials at the Ministry of Tourism. Carey reported that the Four Seasons Great Exuma was running close to full when I was there at the end of June.

The Bahamas, like the U.S. is not considered an endemic area for malaria, but a small number of cases are reported annually.

According to the CDCs latest malaria surveillance report, there were 1,324 cases of malaria in the U.S. in 2004, including cases in California, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New York and Vermont.

For CDC information, visit www.cdc.gov/travel. For Bahamas updates, log on to www.bahamas.com.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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