Mosquitoes are known to transmit several deadly diseases which kill millions annually across the globe. They transmit these diseases when they bite and suck human blood with their proboscis. It is only the female mosquito that sucks blood, and she does so to nurture her eggs. By learning how mosquitoes transmit these diseases, we are halfway nipping them in the bud.
Zika Virus (ZIKV)
The world came to fully know about Zika virus sometime in 2016. The virus gained attention when researchers discovered it was responsible for a condition called microcephaly which caused newborn babies to have heads that are way smaller than usual. On February 1, WHO raised an alarm and by April 13 of that same year, it was confirmed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that Zika virus was responsible for the anomaly experienced by newborns.
Zika virus, a deadly virus that is present in about 40 countries around the world is transmitted by a mosquito specie known as Aedes aegypti. It is believed that the virus can be transmitted via sex. Dr. Margaret Chain, the Director-General of World Health Organization has herself confirmed that Zika virus can be transmitted via sex.
A victim of Zika virus most times suffers health complications like headaches, fever, pain in the muscle and joint, rash, and conjunctivitis. In most cases, those affected by Zika virus barely notice it as they barely experience the afore-mentioned symptoms.
Till date, no cure or vaccine has been created to the treatment of Zika virus. The best thing to do in the event of infection is to take plenty rest and drink lots of water to avoid dehydration. Anti-fever medications can be taken as well.
This disease mostly affects people living in Asia, the Caribbean and Africa, and some parts of America. Four cases of Dengue Fever were reported in Maui, an island in Hawaii. About 2,248 health cases believed to be caused by Dengue Fever were reported between 1977 and 1994 in America alone.
Research has found that the virus responsible for Dengue Fever is transmitted by Aedes aegypti specie. Symptoms of dengue fever include pains in the legs and arm, migraine and feverish feeling, and it takes between four and seven days for the symptoms of the disease to manifest. The extreme form of dengue fever, though rare is dengue hemorrhagic fever which causes the sufferer to experience excessive bleeding and fall in the pressure of the blood.
Chikungunya Fever (CHIKV)
This disease is yet another viral disease transmitted by the Aedes aegypti Mosquito. Mosquitoes of this genus such as the Asian tiger mosquito is capable of transmitting Chikungunya fever.
The first case of Chinkungunya fever was reported in Tanzania sometime in 1952, and the disease has since then spread to over 40 countries across the world. Chikungunya fever got its name from the word “Chikungunya” which in Kimakonde language means to be bent out of shape. Sufferers of the fever develop a contorted appearance due to severe pain in the joints.
Symptoms of the disease include headaches, severe pains in the joints, chills, rash, pain in the lower back and then nausea or vomiting. Dengue fever is to a large extent similar to Chikungunya fever. The major difference is that sufferers of Chinkungunya fever barely experience bleeding or shock. No cure or treatment has been discovered yet for Chikungunya fever. Taking plenty of rest, sufficient hydration and intake of fever medication are effective ways of checkmating the fever.
Malaria is without doubt the commonest disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Statistics from the Who Health Organization has it that between 300 and half a billion people drawn across Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, India, Oceania and the Middle East suffer malaria yearly. The earliest case of malaria was reported in China some 5,000 years ago. Malaria almost caused the abandonment of Panama Canal while it was still being constructed as 21,000 out of the 26,000construction workers were severely affected by malaria.
Female Anopheles mosquito is the vector that causes malaria. They transmit plasmodium, the parasite responsible for malaria when they bite and suck the blood of their host. Symptoms of Malaria include nausea, fever, anemia, coma and death in extreme cases.
One to three million lives are lost every year to malaria. Researchers are now seeking new ways to combat plasmodium as the malaria causing parasite keeps becoming drug resistant by the hour. Part of their strategy is creating a genetically modified Anopheles mosquito incapable of transmitting plasmodium.
West Nile Virus (WNV)
The West Nile virus affects Americans far more than it does to other nationalities of the world. The first case of West Nile virus was reported in West Nile, a district in Uganda decades ago, precisely on February 1937, hence the name West Nile Virus. Ever since then, scores of hundreds of thousand cases have been reported, and most of the affected victims are from Africa, and the Western Mediterranean. The first case of West Nile virus was reported in Europe in 1996, before then spreading to New York in 1999 where it claimed the lives of 7 victims. Presently, this mosquito borne disease found its way to over 40 states across the United States. The Culex, a specie of mosquito which transmits West Nile Disease does so by biting and sucking the blood of its victim. In extreme cases, West Nile Virus cause meningitis, otherwise known as encephalitis as well as the inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEEV)
This mosquito borne virus which affects horses, birds and humans. The first case of the disease was reported sometime in 1933 when a major horse epidemic broke out in Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and then North Carolina some 80 years ago. About 220 persons were treated of EEEV in the space of 60 years starting from 1964 in America, with Georgia, New Jersey, Florida and Massachusetts reporting the most cases.
It was not until 1934 that researchers discovered that EEEV is transmitted by some species of mosquito, with Aedes and Culex being the most common. EEEV is prevalent in areas like states along the Gulf Coast and regions surrounded by freshwater swamps. Humans are barely affected EEEV because the mosquitoes that transmits the virus live areas with large number of swamps where humans hardly visit. In the event of an infection, symptoms are near non-existent, but in extreme cases, severe inflammation which may affect the brain, eventually leading to death may follow.
Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV)
This is a deadly form of virus transmitted by certain species of mosquitoes. The virus is prevalent in Asian countries like Japan, Malaysia and China. The virus was reported to have found its way into Australia some 12 years ago.
Culex, a specie of mosquito is the major vector of Japanese Encephalitis Virus. They pick up the virus when they feed on the blood of infected pigs and birds suffering from Japanese encephalitis virus. The Culex mosquito would then infect its victim with the deadly virus when they feed on their blood.
Symptoms of JEV infection include headache and fever. In extreme cases, symptoms like intense fever, coma, stiffness of the neck, tremors and disorientation may follow.
La Crosse Encephalitis (LACV)
The Aedes mosquito is the major vector of this virus. The virus is prevalent in the Midwestern part of America. The first case of LACV was reported in Wisconsin sometime in 1963. The virus has since then spread to other parts of the United States mostly in central states. Every year, as much as 75 victims are treated of LACV related illnesses. States like Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Indiana report the highest number of cases. In recent times, previously unaffected states like Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin have all reported cases of the virus.
Victims of the virus often suffer health complications like vomiting, headache and nausea shortly after being infected. In severe cases, symptoms like brain damage, coma, seizure and paralysis may follow.
St. Louis Encephalitis (SLEV)
SLEV shares several characteristics with the deadly JEV. The virus has been found to be prevalent in America. It is also present in some other North American Countries including Mexico and Canada, but in small numbers. St. Louis Encephalitis dates back to 1933 when regions like Missouri and St. Louis suffered a major outbreak of encephalitis epidemic. Over 1,000 persons were severely affected by the epidemic.
The Culex mosquito is the major vector of the virus, transmitting the virus by feeding on the blood of virus infected birds before then feasting on the blood of humans.
When infected, the victim usually suffers symptoms like high fever, headache, stiffness of the neck, tremor, spastic paralysis, convulsion, disorientation and stupor. Medical attention should immediately be sought whenever any of these is noticed.
Western Equine Encephalitis (WEEV)
Though quite uncommon, WEEV has since 1964 affected over 700 persons in America alone. WEEV is prevalent in American States along the shore lines of the Mississippi River. Several other countries in South America.
The Culex mosquito is believed to be the major vector of this virus. In the event of an infection, symptoms like flu, coma and even death (in extreme cases) may follow.
Rift Valley Fever (RVFD)
This disease affects both humans and livestock alike, though it affects the former the most. It is prevalent in Asia as well as Africa. Between 1977 and 1978, millions of Africans were affected by the disease – thousands of lives were lost no thanks to the disease.
Scientist say the disease is transmitted by a specie of mosquito known as Aedes mosquito. In the event of an infection, the victim would suffer a wide range of symptoms including dizziness, fever, headache, weight loss and back pain afterwards. In severe cases, sufferers of RVFD may experience hemorrhagic fever and in some cases meningoencephalitis, a form of inflammation of the spinal cord and brain nerves.
Most cases of yellow fever disease have been reported in some South American and African countries. The causative agents of the disease is transmitted by Aedes aegypti, Aedes simpsaloi, and Aedes africanus species of mosquitoes.
The first case of yellow fever disease was first reported in America way back in 1855 when a ship filled with people infected by the disease landed on the coast of Norfolk. Ever since then, scores of hundreds people have lost their lives to the disease.
Statistics from the WHO shows that 30,000 out of the 200,000 people affected by yellow fever die every year especially in developing countries where vaccination is not accessible.
Heartworm disease is yet another deadly disease transmitted via mosquito bite, but this time affecting dogs. This deadly disease kills dogs in their numbers every year. It is not just dogs that are affected by the disease, cats, raccoons and foxes aren’t spared. Dogs contract the disease when mosquitoes, laden with eggs of roundworm feast on their skin. Virtually all species of mosquitoes transmit this disease, and there is no State in America free of Heartworm disease.
After biting the skin of a dog, the mosquito would inject roundworm into the blood system of the dog before then finding its way to the heart of the canine. The best solution for heartworm disease is prevention, as treatment is both expensive and risky.
Ways of containing diseases transmitted by Mosquitoes
La Crosse encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis St. Louis Encephalitis, West Nile virus and are the commonest diseases spread by mosquitoes in the United States. No cure has been found yet. Some of the afore-mentioned malaria borne diseases have vanished from the United States after series of intensive vaccination.
The easiest and most effective way of containing mosquitoes is by clearing out their natural habitats. It is true mosquitoes will never be completely erased from the surface the earth. Suffice to say that they can be effectively contained, and hence the diseases the cause controlled. That said, the best way of preventing mosquito infestation is by making your home and surrounding unfavorable for breeding.