While mosquitoes are certainly a nuisance that can spoil your leisure time, it’s important to remember that they’re more than that — they’re a health hazard. They’re a vector of disease in humans and other pets and are responsible for more than 1 million human deaths each year worldwide. This means that they can impact you, your family, and your community on a very deep emotional and psychological level as well as physically and economically.
Thanks to the efforts of mosquito-control agencies, many of the mosquito-borne illnesses that used to be prevalent in the U.S. are not any longer. But even despite this, 1,000 Americans will become gravely ill or even die because of the diseases that remain a risk, or which may end up migrating here.
You can talk to our staff at any time about mosquito-borne diseases, but you should also reference these important sources:
- American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) www.mosquito.org
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC) www.cdc.gov
- World Health Organization (WHO) www.who.int
Unfortunately, many cases go unreported, and because of its symptoms which may be mild and last as long as a week, it’s believed that many cases are also misdiagnosed. While many infected people don’t get sick enough to be hospitalized and deaths are rare, it can lead to severe birth defects, including microcephaly.
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
Perhaps the most well known disease carried by mosquitoes, roughly 40% of the world population is susceptible to the parasitic disease, and in 2006, nearly 250 million cases were reported, including 1 million deaths. It’s been largely eliminated in temperate climates, but cases are still reported across Europe and the U.S.. Anti-malarial drugs can reduce the chance of infection or aid in recovery.
West Nile Virus
This particular virus has spread through the U.S. at an alarming rate and includes a wide vector of animals that can be infected, including humans, horses, cats and dogs, and even alligators. At least 60 of the mosquito species present in the U.S. have tested positive for this disease, and it’s been responsible for more than 15,000 human cases including 650 fatalities. Only 20% of those infected will display basic symptoms, but 1 in 150 will experience extremely severe symptoms, and it can lead to permanent neurological damage. There is no treatment for the infection at this time.
- Body aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Swollen lymph glands
- Skin rash on the chest, stomach and back
- High fever with headache
- Neck stiffness
- Tremors or convulsions
- Muscle weakness
- Vision loss
- Numbness and paralysis
While humans are unsuitable hosts for this particular parasite, it can have devastating effects on your four-legged family members. It requires both mammals and mosquitoes to complete its entire life cycle. Some can reach up to 14 inches in length, and they tend to inhabit blood vessels between the heart and lungs or even the right ventricle of the heart, obstructing vital organ function that can eventually lead to death. Unfortunately, especially early in infection, your pet may not show many symptoms. This disease can be prevented or controlled with medication.
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Loss of endurance
- Accumulation of fluid in abdomen (“pot belly” effect)
- Heart failure
A severe and acute infection of the brain that causes inflammation, this disease can vary from very mild with full recovery to risk of death. Severe cases that are survived often result in permanent damage to the nervous system. There are several strains of mosquito-borne encephalitis in the U.S., and it can affect people as well as other pets, including dogs, horses, and birds.
- Sore throat
- Stiff neck and back
- Unsteady gait
- Visual sensitivity to light
- Muscle weakness
- Memory loss
- Sudden impaired judgment
- Poor responsiveness
Also known as Lymphatic Filariasis, this disease already infects 120 million people worldwide, and 40 million of those are incapacitated or seriously disfigured. It’s caused by a parasite that lives almost exclusively in the lymphatic system of humans, and it’s transmitted between one person and another via mosquito. The disease is often acquired in childhood but it may take a decade or more for symptoms to occur.
- Enlargement of the entire leg, arm, genitals, vulva, and/or breasts due to accumulated fluids
- Kidney damage or dysfunction
- Lymphatic system damage or dysfunction
According to the World Health Organization, more than 50 million cases occur worldwide every year, although thankfully the mortality rate is low when proper treatment can be provided. An extreme form of infection, Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, has a much higher mortality rate but it can be controlled. Symptoms of this severe infection have an onset between 2 and 7 days after standard symptoms.
- High fever
- Severe headache
- Severe pain behind the eyes
- Joint, muscle and bone pain
- Mild bleeding via the nose or gums
- Easy bruising
- Persistent vomiting
- Severe abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Circulatory failure and shock
Typically found in tropical regions, many travelers are protected from infection thanks to a vaccine. Even so, 200,000 cases occur annually, including 30,000 deaths worldwide. Most infections tend to be mild, but if severe, the infection can be deadly.
- High fever
- Muscle aches
- Kidney and liver failure