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Malaria hits relief worker

A college student who had helped with hurricane relief efforts in Central America was hospitalized here with malaria.

The 19-year-old woman, whose name was not released, was in satisfactory condition Thursday, according to Stephen K. Smith, chairman of the board of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District.

"What we understand through the public health department was she had been working in Nicaragua on hurricane relief," Smith said. "That area is an area known for both dengue fever and malaria."

The woman arrived in Key West on Monday and was taken Thursday to Florida Keys Memorial Hospital, Smith said. Malaria has an incubation period of eight to 14 days.

Malaria's symptoms are similar to those of the flu: fever, chills, diarrhea. The disease is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito and can cause coma and death if left untreated.

Keys officials have checked the woman's hotel for mosquito breeding grounds and found none, Smith said. Mosquito control trucks sprayed in Key West earlier this week.

"We have been a little bit ahead of the game in knocking out the adults," Smith said.

Mosquito control spokesman Mike Spoto said Anopheles mosquitoes, which are the only ones capable of spreading malaria, are not plentiful.

"The chances of it spreading are pretty remote," he said.