NAPLES, Italy — A sailor who contracted malaria while on assignment to Liberia died Saturday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Dae-Ho Carrell — a builder assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 — was part of a 24-person detachment that has been working on humanitarian construction projects in the capital city of Monrovia since August. His unit is based out of Port Hueneme, Calif., but was deployed to U.S. Naval Station Rota, Spain.

Carrell, 23, was transported to Landstuhl on Dec. 22 and died four days later, according to a Navy spokesperson.

The death is currently under investigation, Navy officials said.

Lt. Cmdr. Michael Cooper, an epidemiologist with U.S. Army Public Health Command (Provisional) Public Health Region-Europe, said it is the only malaria-related death in the past two years among U.S. troops of which he is aware.

“Generally speaking, it’s a rare event,” Cooper said.

Carrell had contracted the Falciparum strain of malaria, which is the most dangerous form of the disease, according to Cooper, who was familiar with Carrell’s case.

“All sailors are prescribed anti-malarial medicines before deploying to areas where the disease is prevalent,” said Cmdr. Monica Rousselow, a spokeswoman for Naval Forces Europe.

Navy officials did not say if Carrell had been taking the anti-malarial medication.

Malaria is a “serious threat” to sailors deployed to high-risk areas, according to the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center Web site. Some 500 million people are infected annually with the disease, resulting in more than 2 million deaths.

Most cases of malaria occur in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

Carrell is survived by his mother, Rhonda; sister, Shelly; and brother, Jason.

A memorial service is scheduled Tuesday, at 4 p.m., in the chapel at U.S. Naval Station Rota.

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