Mosquitoes are little and annoying insects that bother us when we are outdoors and suck our blood leaving nasty and itchy bite marks. But mosquitoes also are carriers of multiple different diseases that are harmful to us humans or our pets and that can even kill if not treated. So it is important to know about a few of these diseases and recognize the regions where you might get infected with them by a mosquito bite.
Probably one of the most commonly known mosquito-carried diseases is malaria because it has had such a bad impact in African regions. It is a mosquito-borne disease that is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium. The specific species of mosquitoes that carry malaria is the Anopheles mosquito more specifically females of this kind of mosquitoes. These species favor tropical and subtropical climates so it is common in many parts of Africa, India and in the middle parts of South America. But there have been some cases of Malaria in the US too, however, the US always aggressively controls mosquitoes, therefore, there aren’t many cases of Malaria anymore in the US. Some of the symptoms of malaria are chills, fever, and other flu-like symptoms, so if you have been to Africa or other Malaria positive regions and have developed these symptoms please contact your doctor, because untreated Malaria can develop severe complications and can result even in death.
Another disease that is often associated with mosquitoes is yellow fever. This is a virus type disease that is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. The most common regions where yellow fever is found are tropical and subtropical areas of South America and Africa, similarly like Malaria. The positive thing is that most countries now have regulations that say that you need to vaccinate for yellow fever to be able to enter these countries so the illness is quite uncommon for travelers and tourists. However, a different story is locals of the danger countries that often cannot get their vaccinations. Some of the symptoms that are common to yellow fever are sudden fever, chills, severe headache, body aches, nausea, weakness and vomiting and they will develop after 3 to 6 days after infecting. If this fever is treated right away in most cases the outcome is a complete recovery, but if not treated, it can result in death.
This virus is in a form of a pathogen that is transmitted by mainly Asian Tiger and Yellow Fever mosquitoes. The name of the virus in Mozambique dialect means “That which bends up”, which refers to the primary Chikungunya symptom – terrible joint pain. This virus is more common in the Caribbean and only a few cases have been fixated in the US, all due to traveling. Even though there is no vaccine to this virus or a special treatment, it very rarely is a fatal virus.
Another mosquito related virus that you can get in North and South America, Asia or Africa is Dengue. This virus too is carried by Asian Tiger and Yellow Fever mosquitoes, which is the reason it is so common. The symptoms are very unpleasant, for example most common are a severe headache and eye, joint, muscle pains, rash and mild bleeding of your nose or gums, and it has been dubbed as one of the main causes of illness and death in tropics and subtropics, because there isn’t yet a vaccine against this disease. However with fast diagnostics and treatment, the virus is simply treatable, but if that is not done it might result in death.
Much like ticks mosquitoes can carry also encephalitis. There are many different kinds of encephalitis. For example, there are Eastern Equine Encephalitis that can affect horses, hence the name, as well as people and is carried by mosquitoes. This encephalitis is common to freshwater swampland such as Atlantic and Gulf Coast states of the US, in South America and also the Caribbean. But the Western Equine Encephalitis can affect again horses, birds, other animals and humans too, and is found in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Then there is St. Louis encephalitis that can affect humans, birds, and other mammals and is common to the US and along the Gulf of Mexico. LaCrosse Encephalitis is carried by a specific mosquito – the tree-hole mosquito and is common to the US more specifically the Appalachian region. And lastly, Japanese Encephalitis is a mosquito-carried virus that is common to Asia and western Pacific regions. Although there is a vaccine for this Encephalitis it still can cause severe complications and even death.
West Nile Virus
This virus also is a common disease that mosquitoes transmit to us humans as well as to animals. This virus differently to previous diseases isn’t as deadly and you can avoid it by using bug sprays and the right clothing. In fact, most people don’t even develop symptoms and about 1 in 5 people might develop fever, headache, vomiting body pains or rash. Only about 1% of infected people develop serious symptoms and require excessive treatment. This virus is common to the US, Canada, southern Europe, Africa, Australia, Middle East and India regions.