There are a lot of dangerous insects living in the wild. They come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them can be very dangerous to humans. However, none is more vicious and deadly as the mosquito. It’s true, those pesky, buzzing insects are responsible for more than 2 million deaths around the world, annually – making them by far, the deadliest animals on the face of the earth.
Mosquitoes are ones of the most convenient and resilient carriers of infectious diseases. There are several species of mosquitos who suck blood for sustenance. Of these, only the females actually bite, as they need blood meals in their egg-laying process. Consequently, they bite diseased animals and humans and contract the bacteria or virus causing the infection.
When these mosquitoes bite healthy a human, they literally inject the pathogen into the bloodstream via the saliva.
Mosquito-borne diseases are hard to deal with precisely because of the resilience of their carriers. Here are some of the greatest dangers carried by mosquitoes.
Before the vaccine and serum treatments were developed, malaria laid waste throughout the world. Today, it’s still a leading cause of death in children. The parasite that causes malaria is exclusively transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito. Malaria’s ultrahigh fevers can cause irreversible damage to the brain and other organ systems, even if the patient survives the illness.
Rift valley fever
This disease causes an array of physiological and neurological symptoms which can vary from mild to severe. However, if left untreated – it can cause massive bleeding, vomiting, and brain infections. Due to the massive loss of liquids and nutrients the mortality rate of those who have bleeding symptoms can be as high as 50%. Several species of mosquitoes can act as a disease vector of this viral infection. However, it’s important to note that this disease is far more dangerous to livestock than humans.
Saint Louis encephalitis
This form of viral encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) is caused by the eponymous virus. Its symptoms include headaches, fever, muscle stiffness and in more severe cases, stupor, coma, and seizures. This disease is transferred from birds to humans via mosquito bites. The mortality rate can be as high as 30% and is especially dangerous to the elderly. Currently, there’s no known treatment or vaccine for this disease.
Zika fever is caused by bites from infected mosquitos of the Aedes genus. Even though 80% Zika infections are asymptomatic, this disease presents with fever, joint pain, sore eyes and a rash. This fever is especially dangerous to pregnant women, as the infection can kill the fetus, or lead to several serious congenital defects like microcephaly. This is why it’s recommended for pregnant women to avoid areas of active Zika outbreaks.
Eastern equine encephalitis
Tripple E is an infectious encephalitis caused by a zoonotic virus (EEE Virus). It’s spread from birds to mammals via mosquito vectors, and there currently isn’t an effective treatment for the disease. Due to its nature, those who survive this infection, often sustain irreversible brain damage, leading to mental and intellectual deficiencies, recurring seizures and other neurological symptoms.
As a global health menace, the WHO and other health organizations take measures to contain this threat by draining areas of standing waters, such as ponds or swamps – which is essential for their breeding and survival. Furthermore, they have also gone a long way into developing vaccines to battle these dangers.