Risk of malaria hits Bahamas

After a malaria outbreakon Great Exuma, Bahamas, travelers are being advised to take precautions against the mosquito-borne disease.

To date 16 people have tested positive for malaria, according to an update issued by the Bahamas Tourism Ministry.

The Bahamas Tourism Ministry statement is as follows:

Bahamian health officials have reported that local transmissions of malaria on Great Exuma Island in the southern Bahamas have been interrupted.

The Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization have been working closely and aggressively since the first reported case on the island June 6, 2006.


The organizations issued a joint statement on June 19, 2006 on the status of their efforts to assess and address the situation. No new cases have been reported since June 13 prompting officials to report that transmissions have been interrupted.

To date, no transmissions of malaria have been reported outside of Great Exuma and there are currently no travel health advisories for Nassau/Paradise Island, Grand Bahama Island or other Out Islands including Abaco, Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Harbour Island and Long Island. The 700 Islands Of The Bahamas are scattered over 100,000 square miles of the Western Atlantic Ocean and malaria is not endemic on any of the islands.

The Malaria Outbreak alert issued by the Center for Disease Control on June 16, 2006 applied only to Great Exuma Island in The Bahamas and not to New Providence (also known as Nassau/Paradise Island). The alert, available at www.cdc.gov/travel, advises Americans with plans to travel specifically to the island of Great Exuma in The Bahamas in the next few weeks to take prophylactic Chloroquine as a preventative measure.

Since the first reported case, The Bahamas, with assistance from the Pan American Health Organization, has conducted an intensive program to test for the disease, treat those few affected and spray an expanded area on Great Exuma to contain/eradicate mosquitoes. Officials consider the program to have been successful in halting transmissions.

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 U.S. Center for Disease Control’s latest malaria surveillance report, there were 1,324 cases of malaria reported in the U.S. in 2004, including cases in California, Kentucky, Maryland, Georgia, Vermont and, most recently, New York and Florida.

To date 16 persons have tested positive for malaria; a total of 12 cases had recent infections and four had old infections. All of the patients have been treated with Chloroquine and all have responded well to treatment with no severe illness. They will be closely followed over the next several weeks.