Mosquito Diseases That Can Be Deadly

icon-blog By -Dr. Kanika Sharma
icon-blog By -December 13, 2023


When a mosquito sucks blood as its meal, it also ingests a number of bacteria or viruses present in the host’s blood. These disease causing agents can spread from mosquito’s saliva to other mosquito bites and the chain continues. All the diseases transmitted from mosquitoes to humans (or animals) in this manner are referred as mosquito borne diseases. Such diseases transmitted by mosquitoes to humans include Zika virus, West Nile virus, chikungunya virus, dengue fever, and malaria. 
Today, we will bring up some important information to you in order to spread awareness regarding these diseases. You are at absolutely right destination to seek this information. 

What Are Mosquito Borne Diseases?

Mosquito borne diseases are illnesses that can be transmitted to humans due to mosquito bites. These diseases include malaria or zika are caused by parasites carried in the saliva of biting mosquitoes. Parasites that cause malaria have been affecting humans for thousands of years. However, others, such as chikungunya and Zika, have just emerged at an unusual times in recent years, lately.

Urbanization, international traveling, and immense population growth are some of the factors that paved paths for mosquitoes to breed and cause many diseases even in the places away from their origins. There are thousands of species of mosquitoes. Precisely, the female mosquitoes are the miscreant ones that need nutrients from the host’s blood (vitamins only) to lay eggs.

Mosquitoes generally infect vertebrates, including humans, birds, reptiles, etc and cause diseases due to mosquito bites. These insects most commonly prefer humans or certain animals for their blood as a nutrient source. The female mosquito bites and injects some chemicals into the human skin while feeding on the host's blood. While itching can be very uncomfortable, the biggest threat from mosquitoes is their ability to carry a lot of diseases, including Zika, West Nile, dengue fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Disease causing bacteria and parasites are carried by certain mosquito species. Most mosquito-borne diseases are generally transmitted by three species: Aedes, Culex, and Anopheles.

Following is the information that will provide you insight to type of mosquitoes borne diseases 

1. Malaria 

Malaria is really harmful to health and widespread in the population. Female Anopheles mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting this disease. Malaria is characterized by the symptoms such as fever, headache and chills that begin 10 to 15 days after the bite. However, certain types of malarias can be fatal. More than 247 million cases of malaria are diagnosed every year.

Although some treatments and a multi-dose vaccine are available,  malaria parasites can quickly adapt to antimalarial drugs, which may lead to drug-resistant strains of the parasite. 

2. West Nile Virus Infection

Only a handful of people infected with West Nile virus through mosquitoes that carry the disease develop symptoms such as fever, headache, neck stiffness, tremors, seizures and muscle weakness. In fact up to 80% of people with the disease exhibit no symptoms. 

The fact that the disease is asymptomatic does not mean that it is not fatal. More severe forms of the disease, including West Nile encephalitis or meningitis, affect 1 in 150 people who get infected with West Nile virus. Severe form of this disease is most common in those whose immune systems are weakened after a transplant, who have certain medical conditions, or who are over  60.5 years of age. 

3. Dengue fever 

This viral infection is endemic in 100 countries, and  mosquitoes carrying the disease are associated with 390 million dengue infections each year. Dengue usually causes a mild illness, and treatment focuses on relieving symptoms. However, in severe cases, dengue fever is sometimes called "broken bones" because it can cause severe headaches, muscle and joint pain, high fever, nausea, fatigue, severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and even death in some cases.

Although Asian and American countries have the highest number of infections, dengue is spreading to new areas also, including Europe. The species that carry dengue Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are known as "cockroaches of mosquito" because the insects adapt their life according to the place, next to people and in the urban environment.

4. Zika 

This is one of the diseases that is often asymptomatic, but can cause muscle and joint pain, headache, fever, rash, and conjunctivitis in some cases. Those  bitten by an infected mosquito during pregnancy are at risk of miscarriage and premature birth and even babies can also have birth defects such as microcephaly (smaller than normal head). Although Aedes mosquitoes are the main vectors of the virus, Zika can also be transmitted sexually. According to experts, pathogens like Zika virus can stay in the genital area for a long  time and usually without symptoms. Because people do not suspect that they are infected, they can unknowingly transmit the virus  to their sexual partners. 

Globally, the cases of Zika virus infection are decreasing, but this viral disease is still being diagnosed in 89 countries as well as territories. However, there are no vaccines or treatments available. According to experts, people diagnosed with Zika should refrain from  sexual activity for up to six months after infection to avoid transmitting the virus to their partners. 

5. Yellow fever 

Aedes and Haemogogus mosquitoes are the main vectors for this disease, and a bite from an infected female mosquito can cause symptoms such as headache, fever, muscle aches and nausea. The disease got its name because the infection can cause jaundice, which causes yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.
Yellow fever, one of the mosquito borne diseases, is notoriously difficult to diagnose and can be confused with other diseases such as malaria, leptospirosis and viral hepatitis. Symptoms of this diseases caused by mosquitoes are often mild and disappear within a few days. Fortunately, effective vaccines and supportive therapies are available.

The World Health Organization's strategy for the elimination of yellow fever epidemics (EYE)  aims to prevent international spread and contain epidemics. This aims to protect one billion people from yellow fever by 2026. Tropical regions of Africa and South America are the most vulnerable risk areas for yellow fever. 

6. Chikungunya 

Before 2013, when the first outbreaks of chikungunya occurred in America through the Caribbean, the disease was mainly diagnosed in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Pacific Islands. To date, it has been identified in 110 countries and  more than two million cases have been reported in the world since 2005.

Experts say that the main vector of Chikungunya, known as the Aedes albopictus or  Asian tiger mosquito, is a very aggressive species and has expanded its geographic range over the past 30 years and brought the Chikungunya virus  with it. Aedes aegypti, a close relative of the Asian tiger mosquito, also carries the virus. It is also a highly invasive mosquito species that has expanded its geographic range. Several vaccines are in development, but there are currently no approved vaccines or antiviral drugs to treat the virus.

7. La Crosse encephalitis 

About 65 cases of this disease are diagnosed in the United States each year. Mosquitoes carrying it bite during the day, usually from spring to early fall. They live in wooded areas of the  Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast regions. If you get infected, you may experience fever, nausea and headache, and in severe cases, changes in the nervous system. However, many people do not notice symptoms or remain asymptomatic.

8. Rift Valley fever 

Infected mosquitoes can spread the disease to humans and animals. Named after the region of Kenya where doctors discovered it, it is common in parts of Africa. People also get it in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Symptoms include dizziness and weakness. It can also harm your eyes. 

9. Jamestown Canyon virus 

It was first noticed by doctors in the 1980s and is named after an area near Boulder. If you catch it, you may experience symptoms similar to the flu, such as fever and headache. A more serious problem can be inflammation of the brain or spinal cord. Several types of mosquitoes are known to carry the disease.

10. Snowshoe Hare virus 

It is one of those diseases that is named after the animal because it was first detected in the blood of snowshoe hares. The first person who got it was in Canada in the 1970s, but now it occurs in the United States. It causes headache, dizziness, vomiting, and  rash. Sometimes, it causes inflammation of the brain.

A Note From Medflick

With the summer heat and mosquito activity at its peak, it's a good time to look at the best ways to avoid mosquito bites. If you're traveling to any region affected with mosquito borne diseases or planning to spend time at the beach or simply enjoying a sunset picnic in the park, follow all possible ways to protect yourself from such mosquito bite diseases. Trust Medflick as you companion for seeking authentic facts and information regarding your health concerns.

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