Many people are familiar with some of the diseases that mosquitoes carry. Malaria, yellow and dengue fever, and West Nile virus are all diseases that have been subjects of news in recent history. The mosquito can actually be a host to a wide range of diseases.
Mosquitoes are known as a vector agent, which means that they carry infectious diseases that can be transmitted to other living organisms. Many other vector agents can all carry different diseases. Fleas, ticks, aphids, and bats can also have similar ability to carry diseases and viruses.
Over 700 million people annually are infected by mosquitoes in countries such as Mexico, Africa, Asia, and South America. The United States and others more developed countries do not have as large of a problem with infectious mosquito bites, although there are still deaths each year that are attributed to mosquito bites.
Countries like Africa have a severe problem with mosquito-borne illness like Yellow Fever. Yellow Fever typically is characterized by nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, headaches, back pain, and other manageable symptoms. The worst of these cases cause liver damage and can result in death. About 3% of the cases are fatal and with the amount of cases that appear, that can add up to many citizens of a country. Any American traveling to Africa is required to show proof of immunization against Yellow Fever. Survivors of this infection usually have little to no organ damage and have a lifelong immunity. South America also has a high prevalence of Yellow Fever in the northern part of the continent, including Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia.
One of the major diseases that transmit through mosquitoes is Malaria. Malaria causes about 2 million deaths every year worldwide. Malaria causes pain across many areas of the body that include headaches, muscle fatigue, back pain, and other areas. Malaria also causes chills, jaundice, anemia, and other symptoms.
In America, there are fewer risks for contracting deadly mosquito-borne illnesses. However, America does have certain illnesses that can be passed through mosquito bites. Specifically, in Florida, there have been cases of a disease known as Dengue Fever. Dengue is a tropical fever that is also known breakbone fever and characterized by severe muscle pain. Dengue starts out with extremely high fevers that can reach temperatures up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of fever is also known rashes, bleeding from the mouth and nose, and a host of other symptoms.
South Florida specifically has been battling the outbreak of the Dengue Fever. While cases have been minimal, there is an ongoing discussion on how to prevent the disease in South Florida. Realistically, only about 5% of the cases are severe with a minimal amount being life threatening.
While in more developed countries mosquitoes can seem to be nothing more than an annoyance, it is important to know the risk and avoid mosquitoes whenever possible. Taking the proper precautions when at home or abroad can help people stay away from the trouble and pain of catching a mosquito-borne illness.