At one sight, a tiny creature. But, the threat caused by these tiny creatures is really overwhelming. Yes, mosquitos, one of the deadliest animals on Earth. It is estimated that nearly 700 million people get a mosquito-borne disease every year resulting in over 725,000 deaths. Humongous, right? Man has discovered many things that revolutionised the whole world, but even in this generation of great technology, man is yet to find out some ways to get away from these tiny creatures and the threats caused by these small beasts. In this blog, let’s discuss some of the diseases caused by these deadly creatures, the impact of these diseases, and methods to prevent them.
Malaria is one of the most common diseases caused by mosquitos. Malaria is a protozoan infection caused by a parasite named “plasmodium”. The parasite is spread to humans through the bite of female anopheles mosquitos. Malaria is very common in tropical and subtropical countries. There are nearly 290 million cases of malaria each year, and more than 400,000 people die from it. The symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, Nausea and vomiting, cough, chills, diarrhea, abdominal pain, muscle or joint pain, fatigue, rapid breathing, and rapid heart rate. Once an infected female anopheles mosquito bites you, the parasite travels to your liver and when matured, it leaves the liver and infects your red blood cells. This is the time malarial symptoms start to appear. Plasmodium Falciparum is the deadliest malaria, that can be very dangerous to humans.
Dengue fever is a viral disease spread by the bite of female Aedes aegypti mosquitos. It is caused by the Dengue virus and the disease is common in The Pacific Islands, Puerto Rico, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. The common symptoms include fever, nausea and vomiting, eye pain, and muscle and joint pain. Usually, these symptoms last for 2 to 7 days and most people recover from the infection. But on the other hand, if you are affected by Severe Dengue things can be more complicated. It is estimated that one in twenty people who contract Dengue will develop Severe Dengue. The signs and symptoms of severe dengue include severe fever, vomiting, bleeding from nose or gums, vomiting blood, blood in the stool, and feeling tired and restless. If proper healthcare is not given, the patient may even succumb to death.
Yellow fever is a viral infection caused by the yellow fever virus and again the villain here is the female Aedes Aegypi mosquitos. Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, yellow fever was considered as one of the most dangerous infectious diseases as the disease bludgeoned and swept through many places in US and rest of the world. But, currently there is a vaccine developed for yellow fever that keeps people away from this dreaded infection. Yellow fever is common in tropical areas of the continents of South America and Africa. In 2013, yellow fever resulted in 127,050 infections and 45,000 people lost their lives worldwide. The incubation period of yellow fever is 3 to 6 days. The symptoms include fever, headache, chills, backpain, fatigue, muscle pain, loss of appetite, and nausea and vomiting. In 15% of people, after the fever getting cured, it comes back again along with an abdominal pain resulting in liver damage and yellow skin. In this case bleeding from mouth, nose, and eyes occurs and also the patient vomits blood. Severe cases of yellow fever has a mortality rate greater than 50%.
Chikungunya, another viral infection spread by the Aedes Aegypti species of mosquitos. It is caused by the Chikungunya virus. Chikungunya got its name from an African language indicating the stooped appearance of the patients due to severe joint pain. Chikungunya outbreaks have occurred in various countries in Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean. The incubation period of chikungunya is 3 to 7 days. The common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and rashes. Death cases due to chikungunya are rare as most patients recovers within a week. However, the joint pain may be severe and may last for months. Currently, there is no vaccine developed against chikungunya, so the only way to stay away from this disease is to ensure that you are not getting bitten by mosquitos!
West Nile Fever:
West Nile Fever is also a viral infection caused by the West Nile Virus. The West Nile Fever is spread by Culex species of mosquitos. Most people affected with west nile fever will not show symptoms at all. Symptoms are found only in a few people and this includes fever, headache, body ache, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and rashes. In some occasions, west nile fever with severe illnesses are also reported. About 1 in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness. This severe illness affects the central nervous system and causes encephalitis or meningitis. The symptoms of severe illness include high fever, headache, stupor, neck stiffness, coma, disorientation, tremors, vision loss, muscle weakness, numbness, and paralysis. It will take weeks or months to recover from severe illness and in some cases the effects to the central nervous system will be permanent. About 1 out of 10 people suffering from severe illness affecting the central nervous system dies.
Rift Valley Fever:
Rift Valley Fever is a viral infection caused by Phlebovirus and spread through infected mosquitos. The disease got its name from a place in Kenya and the infection is common in the continent of Africa. Rift valley fever causes serious threats to animals, however, coming to humans, most of the people does not even have symptoms or will only have a mild illness with fever, back pain, and dizziness. Only a small percentage of people with Rift valley fever shows serious symptoms like eye disease, excessive bleeding, and encephalitis(swelling of the brain).
Zika virus is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes Aegypti species of mosquitos. Most people with Zika virus infection do not show any symptoms or will only have mild symptoms including fever, headache, conjuctivitis, rashes, and muscle and joint pain. But, if Zika occurs in pregnant women, the case will become more complicated. Microcephaly and other congenital malformations are caused by Zika virus infection during pregnancy. Zika virus outbreaks have occurred in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific.
Methods of prevention:
To completely eradicate mosquito-borne diseases is going to be a herculean task. But, if we take some essential preventive measures, we can control these dreaded diseases up to a limit. The following are some such measures to control mosquito-borne diseases.
- Use Always use insect repellants whenever you are outside
- Wear long-sleeved clothing that will cover up your entire body
- mosquito nets while sleeping
- Remove stagnant water wherever you spot as it is in this type of water mosquitos lay eggs
- Always maintain cleanliness. Use soaps and sanitizers.
- Try to stay indoors during the peak point of mosquito attack
Check your knowledge
Answer. Aedes Aegypti
Answer. 3 to 6 days
Answer. Culex mosquitos