The Most Common Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Mosquitoes are small, annoying insects. They bother us when we are outdoors, sucking our blood and leaving nasty, itchy bite marks.

Mosquitoes also carry multiple diseases that can harm humans or other animals. Some of these diseases can even kill if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to know about these diseases. It’s also important to know the regions where you might get infected with them.

Malaria

This is probably one of the most well-known mosquito-carried diseases. A parasite called Plasmodium causes this mosquito-borne disease.

The specific species of mosquitoes that carries malaria is the Anopheles mosquito – more specifically the females of this species. This mosquito favors tropical and subtropical climates, so it’s common in many parts of Africa, India, Asia, and South America. There have been some cases of malaria in the US, too. The US always aggressively controls mosquitoes, though, so there aren’t many cases of malaria in the US anymore.

Some of the symptoms of malaria include chills, fever, and other flu-like symptoms. So if you have been to any areas that have a malaria presence and have developed these symptoms, please contact your doctor. When untreated, those with malaria can develop severe complications and the disease can result even in death.

Yellow Fever

Another disease that is often associated with mosquitoes is yellow fever. Infected mosquitoes transmit this virus-type disease to humans. The most common regions to find yellow fever include the tropical and subtropical areas of South America and Africa.

Most countries in these areas now have regulations requiring yellow fever vaccinations before entering those countries. This means the illness is quite rare to find in travelers and tourists. Sadly, the local population in these countries often can’t get the vaccinations, though.

Some of the common symptoms of yellow fever include sudden fever, chills, severe headache, body aches, nausea, weakness, and vomiting. These symptoms will develop after 3 to 6 days after the infected bite occurs. With immediate treatment, in most cases, yellow fever ends with a complete recovery. If untreated, it can result in death.

Chikungunya

This virus comes in the form of a pathogen transmitted mainly by Asian tiger and yellow fever mosquitoes. The name of the virus in Mozambique means “that which bends up,” in reference to the primary symptom of Chikungunya: terrible joint pain.

This virus is most common in the Caribbean, with only a few cases in the US, all due to traveling. Even though there is no vaccine for this virus or special treatment, it’s very rarely fatal.

Dengue Fever

Another mosquito-related virus that you can get is dengue fever. This disease can be found in North and South America, Asia, and Africa. This virus is also transmitted by Asian tiger and yellow fever mosquitoes, which is part of the reason that it’s so common.

The symptoms are very unpleasant. For example, the most common symptoms are severe headache, rash, mild bleeding of the nose or gums, and eye, joint, or muscle pain.

Dengue fever is one of the main causes of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics because there is no vaccine against this disease. However, with a quick diagnosis, the virus can be treated. If not treated, it might result in death.

Encephalitis

There are many different kinds of encephalitis. Like ticks, mosquitoes can also carry this disease. Mosquito-borne eastern equine encephalitis, for example, can affect horses as well as people. This encephalitis is common to freshwater swamplands such as in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states of the US, South America, and the Caribbean.

Western equine encephalitis can affect horses, birds, other animals, and humans, too. It’s found in the US, Canada, and Mexico. St. Louis encephalitis can affect humans, birds, and other mammals. It’s common to the US, along the Gulf of Mexico. A specific mosquito species carries LaCrosse encephalitis: the tree hole mosquito. This disease is common to the US, more specifically the Appalachian region. Finally, Japanese encephalitis is a mosquito-carried virus common to Asia and western Pacific regions. Even though there is a vaccine for this encephalitis, it still can cause severe complications and even death.

West Nile Virus

This virus also a common disease that mosquitoes transmit to humans as well as to animals. Unlike the previous diseases mentioned, this virus isn’t as deadly. It’s common to the US, Canada, southern Europe, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, and India.

You can avoid it by using bug repellents and the right clothing. In fact, most people don’t even develop symptoms. About one in five people might develop a fever, headache, vomiting, body pains, or a rash. Only about 1% of infected people develop serious symptoms and require excessive treatment.

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