End to malaria in the Bahamas

The Bahamas Ministry of Health has advised that the local transmission of malaria on Great Exuma had ceased. This conclusion is based on the passage of three successive incubation periods of 15 days with no new cases of the disease identified.

Upon confirmation of a case of malaria on June 6, 2006, the Ministry of Health, with assistance from the Pan American Health Organization, began an aggressive program on island to identify possible infections, treat where necessary and eradicate environmental sources of the disease. The investigation revealed a small cluster of 19 cases and all were successfully treated. No cases were reported outside the island of Great Exuma. Nassau/Paradise Island, Grand Bahama Island and Out Islands including Abaco, Andros, Bimini, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Harbour Island and Long Island were unaffected.

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.

On June 16, 2006 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) posted a temporary travel notice for those with specific plans to visit Great Exuma, recommending the use of prophylactic chloroquine. At this time, health officials in The Bahamas feel there is no longer a need for special precautions when visiting Great Exuma. “We are confident that this minor outbreak has been halted and that malaria poses no further risk to the residents of Great Exuma or visitors to the island,” said Dr. Baldwin Carey of the Bahamas Ministry of Health. “While the CDC has not removed its advisory regarding preventive measures from its Web site, the recommendations are temporary and we have every confidence that the CDC will withdraw this in the near future.”

The Department of Health is continuing to monitor the situation closely and the Department of Environmental Health will continue its intense vector control and entomological management.