The Center for Disease Control reports that mosquitos are the deadliest creatures on the planet and human beings are in constant danger. The tiny flying insects transmit diseases that result in approximately 1 million deaths each year and the spread of non-lethal viruses has steadily risen. The king of the jungle has been displaced by a bug that weighs 2.5 milligrams.
The primary disease carrier is the Aedis aegypti mosquito prevalent in the United States. In fact, more than half the human population lives side by side with this biting insect. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases include Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever, Zika, Malaria and West Nile. Here are some hard facts about the threat mosquitoes pose to humans.
Malaria: Caused by five Plasmodium parasites carried by mosquitoes, more than half the world’s human population remains at risk. In 2015, the WHO reported that 212 million people contracted malaria, resulting in 429,000 fatalities. Although the majority of malaria cases have occurred in Sub-Sahara Africa, it remains a global epidemic. The United States averages between 1,500 and 2,000 cases each year and there have been 63 full blown U.S. outbreaks in the last 60 years.
Zika: Outbreaks of Zika in the United States have instilled significant mosquito fear in southern states such as Florida and Texas. Zika has been reported in more than 130 countries and the infection exhibits only minor flu-like symptoms in many cases. Its most terrifying effect is on pregnant women whose babies may be born with small heads and brain damage. Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a condition that inflicts paralysis and death.
Dengue: This disease tends to spread through urban areas in tropical weather. Although thought to be restricted to Latin America, Dengue has migrated to Florida, China and Japan in recent years. It has been reported in more than 125 countries and 3.9 billion people may be at risk. The symptoms are quite prominent and include headaches, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands and rashes. Medical treatment within 24-48 can be critical for survival.
West Nile: Transmitted by the common Culex mosquito, the disease is circulated from the insects biting infected birds then humans. The disease has been reported in North America, Africa, Europe and Asia and about 80 percent of people exhibit no symptoms. Approximately 20 percent suffer severe headaches, fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, convulsions, coma and paralysis.
Chikungunya: Found in more than 60 countries, this disease tends to proliferate in areas where mosquitoes breed near homes. Outbreaks tend to be localized and symptoms include fever, body aches, fatigue, nausea, rash and debilitating joint pain. It is commonly misdiagnosed as Dengue.
Yellow Fever: Although this mosquito-borne disease seems to be restricted to tropical regions, travelers may contract it and create outbreaks in other places. The infection is transmitted from monkeys to humans and symptoms include fever, body aches, headache, chills, appetite loss and about 15 percent of infected people exhibit heightened issues within 24 hours. These more dangerous symptoms include jaundice, high fever, abdominal pain and bleeding from the eyes, nose or mouth. Approximately 50 percent of people who show the increased symptoms die.
The top priority for humans is to inhibit the ability of mosquitoes to reproduce. Check your property for standing water in everyday home or household items. Without stagnant water, mosquito populations can be greatly reduced. The second line of defense is protection. There are a variety of natural mosquito repellants such as Lemon Balm that can be cultivated in gardens or planters. After that, chemical repellants have proven effective at stopping bites. Keep in mind that mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Those tweener sunlight hours are good times to stay in and avoid becoming a target.