ATTACK OF THE KILLER MOSQUITOES
If you have been watching the world news lately, you have probably come across the news story about what has been happening in the Philippines lately, a small Southeast Asian country. There has been a dengue outbreak there, and the number of patients shot up to tens of thousands. In countries like the Philippines, healthcare is a luxury -, especially in rural areas. With this dengue outbreak happening there, there is now a huge lack of healthcare workers to attend to all the dengue victims and have resulted in hundreds of deaths.
Once again, the killer mosquitoes have struck hard. Just as they have done all throughout mankind’s history.
It is recorded that dengue fever infects 50 million to 100 million people worldwide. There has actually been a dramatic increase in the number of cases since the 1900s, and that increase has been attributed to global warming, increased travel, and increase in population.
Mosquitoes, we can say, are at it again. Well, they have never left as they have been doing this kind of stuff year in and year out; they have been mass murdering people every year all throughout history. What is more fearsome is that they not only transmit dengue fever but a myriad of other diseases as well.
What do we know about dengue fever?
It is that time of the year when dengue fever is here. The dengue fever is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that is both painful and exhausting, and possibly life-threatening. It is caused by one of four viruses: Dengue viruses 1, 2, 3, and 4. It is the leading cause of illnesses and deaths in tropical and subtropical countries, like the Philippines, Africa, Mexico, the Pacific Islands, Taiwan, and Central and South America. The estimated number of infections throughout the world is from 390 to 400 million. Even if not on the list, the United States is still vulnerable due to the fact that travel by U.S. citizens to these tropical countries is common. A U.S. resident who travels to a South American country and gets bitten by a mosquito could go back home infected with the virus. If a mosquito in the U.S. bites this traveler, then that mosquito can spread the virus instantly. Most dengue fever cases here in the States happen this way.
Three to six days after being infected, the symptoms will begin to show on the patient. These symptoms include sudden high fever that lasts for 2 to 7 days, vomiting, severe abdominal pain, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, difficulty breathing, nausea, skin rash, black and tarry stools, bleeding nose or gums, and a tendency to bruise easily.
Description of mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are bar none the most dangerous creatures on the planet. No .other creatures on earth have killed more humans than they have. Mosquitoes have even killed more people than all the wars in history combined, which really says a lot.
Mosquitoes are small insects that are classified as invertebrates and with the Scientific name Culicidae. There are as many as 3,000 species of mosquitoes, but only three of them are known to transmit diseases. The Culex mosquitoes, which carry filariasis, West Nile virus, and encephalitis; Anopheles mosquitoes which carry malaria; and Aedes, which carry yellow fever, dengue fever, and encephalitis. They are small in size, only about .125 to .75 inch in length and weigh .000088 ounces. They have a slim, jointed body; a pair of wings each; they have six legs; prolonged mouthparts; and antennae attached to their heads. They are nocturnal, which explains why you discover their bites usually in the morning on areas of your skin that did not have any bite marks the night before you slept. Mosquitoes are one of the slowest flying insects, they fly at a speed of only 1.5 miles per hour. They are also very lightweight that using an electric fan will disturb their flight pattern, making it a good protection for us.
Only the female mosquitoes bite. This is because only the females have the necessary mouthparts that can suck blood. Their mouths have two tubes: one is for injecting enzymes that would prevent blood clotting, and the other is for sucking blood. The male mosquitoes settle for just a steady diet of nectar.
Mosquitoes have poor eyesight; they really cannot see their potential hosts. They rely on the carbon dioxide emitted by humans or animals to find them. Aside from that, they also use scent to help them find a host.
Tiny monsters they may be, but they have a lifecycle too. The mosquitoes’ life cycle starts from being an egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Female mosquitoes love to breed on the water surface that has become stagnant for at least a week, and that is also where they lay their eggs. They can live to as long as 5 to 6 months. They actually live a long life for an insect.
Mosquitoes can lay 100 to 300 eggs at a time and can do so all throughout their lifetime. Global warming may likely even increase their population.
There is one good thing that they do for the ecosystem though: they are a good source of food for other insects that are beneficial to the environment.
Other mosquito-borne diseases
Of course, they cannot be considered the most dangerous creatures on earth if they transmit only dengue fever. Among the other fatal diseases they transmit are the following:
- Malaria – Malaria is caused by a bite from a female Anopheles mosquito. Africa has the highest number of cases of malaria. Americans get malaria due to increased travel to countries where the parasites are endemic, then go back to the U.S. already with the infection after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The danger here is that if the infected person is once again bitten, then malaria would spread even in the United States. Signs and symptoms are fever, headache, muscle aches, nausea, muscle aches, chills, and tiredness. If not treated within 24 hours, malaria can progress to severe illness and even death. Consult a doctor if you think you are infected with this disease.
- West Nile Fever -This is the most common mosquito-borne disease among Americans here in the United States. Among those who are infected, only 20 percent show symptoms. These symptoms usually show after 3 days to two weeks of being bitten. Symptoms include mild fever, body aches, headaches, diarrhea, vision loss, numbness, body rashes, swollen lymph glands, muscle weakness, and paralysis. However, some people will show severe symptoms, and have meningitis and permanent brain damage. When the central nervous system gets affected, the patient may die. People over 60 or those with medical conditions are at higher risk of getting severe symptoms. Doctors may order tests to verify if you contracted the virus.
- Yellow fever – It is so named because of jaundice that appears in some of the patients. There are no symptoms for most people who are affected, but those with symptoms will have a fever, chills, severe headache, body pains, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. Then a smaller percentage may have a more severe phase in a span of one day. Jaundice, high fever, dark urine, and abdominal pains will appear in more severe cases. There may be bleeding in the eyes, nose, mouth, and stomach. Death of the patient may occur after 7 to 10 days.
Mosquitoes love to breed in standing water, so it is best to remove all things that can hold water, like old cans, old tires, old gutters, water containers, and abandoned birdbaths. To avoid getting bitten, use mosquito repellents that are Environmental Protection Agency – approved. When going outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants for added protection.
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