Taiwan on Wednesday reported the country's first confirmed malaria case of the year, involving a Swiss man in his 50s who contracted the disease overseas, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The man, who worked in the Ivory Coast in West Africa from late December last year to early January this year, had not taken medicine for malaria prevention, CDC Deputy Director Chuang Jen-hsiang (???) said.
Chuang added that the man had come to Taiwan for business on Jan. 9 and began experiencing both a headache and a fever lasting several days after arrival.
The man did not seek medical attention until Jan. 17, when it was initially thought he had COVID-19.
However, after continuing to display symptoms despite testing negative for COVID-19, the man was admitted to a different hospital for emergency treatment on Jan. 19.
A blood test the following day confirmed that the man had been infected by the malaria-causing Plasmodium falciparum parasite, Chuang said, adding that he had been discharged after treatment.
According to CDC data, from 2019 until Wednesday, a total of 14 malaria cases were recorded in Taiwan. All 14 of the cases were infected abroad.
Chuang said that there were seven imported cases of malaria in 2019 before Taiwan imposed COVID-19 controls in March 2020, while two cases every year were reported in the following three years.
Symptoms of malaria are similar to those of flu and usually appear seven to 30 days after the mosquito bite. The initial symptoms of malaria include mainly a fever.
Severe cases may lead to splenomegaly, jaundice, shock, liver and renal failure, pulmonary edema, acute encephalopathy, and coma.
Chuang said that people who plan to visit malaria-endemic areas - which includes tropical and subtropical countries, and parts of Africa, in particular - should get a medical consultation in Taiwan at least one month before going abroad.
Chuang added that travelers to such countries should continue to take anti-malaria medicines before, during, and after traveling abroad, following instructions from their doctor.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel