Diseases Caused by Mosquitoes

July 09, 2013

Mosquitoes are one of the most recognized insects around the world that cause different kinds of diseases. However, despite the efforts of the media to inform the public on the dangers these insects pose as well as the solutions to take to prevent their breeding and activity, there are still a lot who misunderstand mosquitoes. This article tackles some of the of the diseases that one might get from mosquito bites:

Yellow Fever  According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Yellow Fever virus can be found in tropical and sub-tropical areas in Africa and South America. The virus can be transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected mosquito.

Symptoms of Yellow Fever in human include:  fever, chills, anorexia, nausea, muscle pain (with prominent backache) and headache, which generally subsides after several days. In severe cases, the virus can cause liver damage leading to death.

Dengue Fever This is the leading cause of illness and death in the subtropical and tropical areas. CDC recorded that approximately 100 million people are infected every year around the world. In the Philippines, news on dengue prevalence is practically a daily occurrence in evening news reports. As confirmed by the DOH (Dept. of Health) on TV, mosquito season in the Philippines starts in the rainy season or June and lasts until about October.  However this all depends also the weather patterns  the more rains, the more stagnant water, the more mosquitoes. There is no vaccine yet to prevent infection with Dengue Virus.  So our best defense as has always been propagated by DOH is cleaning of surroundings and removal of all items that collect water.  The Aedes Aegypti that transmit dengue lays eggs even on the littlest puddle of water making even tree leaves or trash sufficient for their breeding.

Its symptoms can be mistaken for the common flu. However, there are some symptoms that occur days after the infection, this may include:

  • Sudden, high fever
  • Severe headaches
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Severe joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rash, which appears three to four days after the onset of fever
  • Mild bleeding (such a nose bleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising)

Malaria  Caused by an Anopheles mosquito bite. This is one of the world's deadliest tropical diseases. They are usually found in rural and mountainous areas and in the Philippines, they are endemic to certain provinces only.  Symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Dry Cough
  • Muscle and/or back pain
  • Enlarged Spleen

Again, the symptoms can also be mistaken for other common flu.

West Nile Fever  The presence of this virus that causes sleeping sickness is still being contested in the Philippines, West Nile Fever has been reported in much of Africa, Asia including Borneo, in the United States and even in Europe according to the University of Florida.

Symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rash

Severe Symptoms can include:

  • Neck Stiffness
  • Stupor
  • Tremor
  • Coma
  • Disorientation
  • Paralysis
  • Vision Loss

We have to remember that any of the symptoms above can cause death if not treated properly.

People with compromised or weak immune system are also of higher risk of acquiring any of the above illnesses when bitten by an infected mosquito.

Based on the mosquito biology and habits, its control is best done community-wide. Mosquitoes can fly and home-in on bloodhosts such as humans 30 meters away, and even from about 100 meters away as our breathing produce CO2. They remain close to their breeding sites within a 1 mile (1.6 km) radius making it imperative that all homes or buildings within such a location cooperate in removing all trash and receptacles, etc. that hold water.

Mosquitoes thrive because there is water. Even if your home is spotless but your neighbor isn't, you may still get bitten and fall to dengue or the other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.  So in addition to hiring professional control companies, putting-on insect repellants is always handy especially if you travel.