CAN WE JUST SIMPLY IGNORE MOSQUITOES?
We have all probably experienced getting bitten by mosquitoes at some point in our lives. They are everywhere after all, with their presence being seen in all continents except Antarctica. It is easy to ignore mosquito bites after all. To many of us, the only damage it does to us is a minor red bump on the skin and perhaps, a little itchiness thrown in. If that is all we have gotten out of these close encounters with the mosquitoes, then consider ourselves lucky. Mosquitoes notoriously bring more than just a little red bumps on the skin, they transmit many deadly diseases too.
Mosquitoes are considered as the “most dangerous creatures on the planet”
If that does not scare us about the mosquitoes, then I do not know what will. It is amazing how popular culture always pictures other creatures as these scary monsters that we have to avoid at all costs. Animals like lions, sharks, bears, wolves, and snakes are always featured as the most fearsome on earth. The truth is they are NOT; they actually do not attack humans unless they get disturbed, or we wander into their territories which they naturally would just protect. Mosquitoes, however, attack us right where we are most vulnerable and bite us simply because they want to.
Mosquitoes have caused millions of deaths around the world every year. Aside from being these nuisance pests in our homes, they carry some of the most dangerous diseases known to man. Most of their victims are children and the elderly.
Mosquitoes are known to spread dangerous diseases like dengue fever, malaria, West Nile virus, encephalitis, filariasis, yellow fever, and Zika virus.
It has been said many times over that mosquitoes have killed more people than all the wars in history combined.
What are mosquitoes?
There are around 3,000 species of mosquitoes. Of this number, only three are responsible for the spread of the diseases. Its Scientific name is Culicidae.
Mosquitoes about .125 mm to .75 inches in length and weighs about 0.000088 oz. They have slim bodies that are jointed. They have a pair of wings each, with six legs, prolonged mouthparts, and antennae attached to their heads. They can live from 2 weeks up to as long as 6 months. They feed on human or animal blood.
Life cycle and habitat
The mosquitoes life cycle starts from being an egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs on the water surface. Female mosquitoes love to breed on the water surface that has become stagnant for at least a week. They can often be found in water containers, jars, old cans, clogged gutters, old tires that have gathered rain, neglected birdbaths, swimming pools, and anything that can hold water for a long time. Inside the house, they like to stay in the bedroom, the kitchen, and the bathroom.
How they transmit the disease
Their mode of transferring diseases is through bites. Only female mosquitoes bite because male mosquitoes do not have the essential mouthparts to bite and suck blood. The female mosquito’s mouth has two tubes: one is for secreting enzymes that would prevent blood clotting of the host, the other tube is for sucking blood. They manage to transfer diseases in many ways. Female mosquitoes carry parasites inside their stomach, When the female sucks blood, the parasites transfers to this new host. The parasites then would cause the host to be sick. In other cases, the virus enters the mosquito as it feeds on an infected human’s blood. The mosquito then transfers to another human and infects them with their saliva.
Mosquitoes do not have very good eyesight. They find their hosts through the carbon dioxide emitted by humans or animals. They also use scent to help them find a host, usually through human sweat.
What are some of the diseases mosquitoes transmit?
West Nile Fever – This is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the United States. Only 20 percent of those who are infected show symptoms. Symptoms show up about 3 days to two weeks after being bitten. Those people with mild symptoms will recover quickly; these symptoms could be a mild fever, body aches, headaches, diarrhea, vision loss, numbness, body rashes, swollen lymph glands, muscle weakness, and paralysis. Some people though will have severe cases. Patients with severe cases will have meningitis and permanent brain damage, When the central, death may follow. To diagnose, your health care provider can order tests to verify if you contracted the virus.
Yellow fever – For most people who are infected with yellow fever, there are no symptoms. For those with symptoms, patients will have a fever, chills, severe headache, body pains, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. And then, for these people who show symptoms, a smaller percentage may have a more severe phase within one day. They will then have jaundice, high fever, dark urine, and abdominal pains. There may be bleeding in the eyes, nose, mouth, and stomach. Patients may die after 7 to 10 days. It is called as such because of jaundice that appears in some patients.
Dengue – Dengue fever is a deadly disease that can be quite painful too. It is caused by one of four viruses and transmitted through the bite of the Aedes mosquito: the Dengue viruses 1, 2, 3, and 4. Since there are four different viruses that cause dengue fever, it is possible for one person to get the disease four times during his lifetime. It is also worth noting that dengue fever is the number one illness and cause of death in tropical and subtropical countries. Symptoms include sudden high fever that lasts for a week, vomiting, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, a tendency to bruise easily, pain behind the eyes, nausea, skin rash, black and tarry stools, and bleeding nose or gum. It is estimated that the number of infections is from 390 to 400 million throughout the world. Most of these cases occur in tropical countries like Africa, Mexico, the Pacific Islands, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Central and South America. For now, there is no known cure for this disease.
Malaria – Malaria is caused by the female Anopheles mosquito. This disease can be fatal. Africa has the highest number of cases of malaria, accounting for 92% of the cases in 2017. People in the United States also get malaria due to increased travel to countries where the parasites are endemic. Signs and symptoms are fever, headache, muscle aches, nausea, muscle aches, chills, and tiredness. Malaria can progress to severe illness and even death if not detected and treated within 24 hours. See your healthcare provider if you think you are infected with malaria.
Zika virus – This disease is spread by the Aedes species, which is active during the day. Symptoms include fever, rashes, headaches, joint pain, and red eyes. These can last for several days to a week. These symptoms appear within one week to two weeks, but they are mild and not fatal. People who were already infected develop immunity to it.
The best way to prevent these diseases from happening is to get rid of these mosquitoes altogether. Here are some of the ways to stop mosquitoes dead on their tracks.
- Mosquitoes like to breed in standing water. Get rid of things that can hold water. Useless things like used tires, old cans, broken or clogged rain gutters, outdoor faucets, street gutters, and plastic containers should be thrown away.
- Mosquitoes somehow like to stay in bedrooms, probably because they are attracted to the scent and the carbon dioxide that humans emit. Use a mosquito net in the bedroom so they will not be able to bite you.
- Make sure your doors and windows are closed at all times.
- Use mosquito repellents that are registered with the Environment Protection Agency. Look for the active ingredient DEET for added protection. Apply these on your skin.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when going outdoors for added protection.
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