Mosquitoes are major contributors of several diseases throughout the Caribbean and the world at large. Mosquitoes can pass along these diseases to humans by biting them. Only female mosquitoes bite to nourish their eggs and only certain species of mosquitoes carry diseases. The best defense is to become educated about these diseases and find ways to control the mosquito population.
Zika Virus (ZIKV)
In 2016, Zika virus began commanding worldwide attention because of an alarming connection between the virus and microcephaly - a birth defect that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. The World Health Organization declared a global public health emergency on February 1, and on April 13 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the evidence was conclusive - the Zika virus causes a rare birth defect and other severe fetal abnormalities.
Transmitted by the aggressive daytime biting Aedes aegypti mosquito, Zika has now spread to 40 countries. There have also been several reported cases of transmission of the virus through sexual intercourse. World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan issued a statement to the effect: "reports and investigations in several countries strongly suggest that sexual transmission of the virus is more common than previously assumed."
Symptoms of the virus include a slight fever, rash, conjunctivitis, headaches, joint and muscle pain. Symptoms begin to show between 3 and 12 days however, the majority of those infected (80%) show no symptoms and don't even know they have the virus.
There is no vaccine or cure for the Zika virus, and the treatment plan for those infected is to get plenty of rest, drink fluids to stave off dehydration, and take pain and fever medications.
Dengue fever is found mostly in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. However, it has made its way into the United States. In the summer of 2001 four people on the island of Maui in Hawaii contracted the disease. From 1977 to 1994, there have been 2,248 suspected cases of imported dengue fever reported in the United States.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which primarily feeds during the day, is a carrier of the Dengue fever virus. Symptoms of the disease begin four to seven days after being bit and include fever, painful headaches, eye, joint and muscle pain and a rash on the arms or legs. The disease is rarely fatal but occasionally progresses to dengue hemorrhagic fever a more serious illness with abnormal bleeding and very low blood pressure.
Probably one of the most widespread diseases that mosquitoes can carry is Malaria. According to the World Health Organization, malaria infects 300 to 500 million people every year in Africa, India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Oceania, and Central and South America. Malaria has been around for thousands of years. The symptoms of malaria were described in ancient Chinese medical writings in 2700 BC. Malaria is etched in history as the construction of the Panama Canal was nearly halted because of it. In 1906, there were more than 26,000 employees working on the canal of these, more than 21,000 were hospitalized for malaria at some time.
Malaria is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito. These mosquitoes primarily bite during the nighttime hours. Once infected, the symptoms include anemia, fever, chills, nausea, and flu-like illness and in severe cases coma and death.
Malaria kills between one and three million people worldwide each year. Since there is no vaccination for the disease and the Plasmodium parasite that causes malaria has become increasingly drug resistant scientists are beginning to look at a new way to combat the disease. Researchers are currently looking for a way to create a genetically altered Anopheles mosquito that would be resistant to the Plasmodium parasite.
Preventing Mosquito-Borne Diseases
One way to prevent the spread of these diseases is to get rid of the mosquito population. While eradicating all the mosquitoes in the world sounds like a good idea, it will never realistically happen. Therefore, taking protective measures against mosquitoes is the next best solution. Forbes Pest Control has the ideal equipment to rid of those pesky, dangerous critters that linger around your property.