Mosquito Diseases – Exploring Diseases Mosquitoes Carry
By: Rita Stadler
Mosquitoes are considered the most dangerous animal in the world. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica and their high numbers make mosquitoes nearly impossible to avoid. Mosquito-borne diseases kill an estimated 725,000 people every year.
Although mosquitoes are a very real and serious health threat, you can arm yourself with knowledge about the signs and symptoms to watch for. Remember, the best defense is a good offense, so find out how to protect yourself here.
What diseases do mosquitoes carry?
Many different kinds of diseases are spread by mosquitoes to both people and animals.
- Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). These mosquitoes bite during the day and night.
- Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause birth defects.
- There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
- It’s unlikely for someone to get Zika in the continental US, as in 2018 and 2019 there were no local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission reports.
- Those planning on travelling internationally should consult government regulated travel resources to see high risk areas and take necessary precautions.
- West Nile is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States.
- It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.
- Cases of West Nile Virus occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall.
- There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV do not feel sick.
- Learn more about prevention tips by reading 5 Tips for West Nile Virus Prevention.
- Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans.
- Every year there are over 1700 cases of Malaria here in the US. Typically most cases are travellers returning from high risk areas who were infected prior to their arrival in the US.
- People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness.
- Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
- Those expected to travel to high risk areas should take necessary precautions and research accordingly.
- Encephalitis is a viral disease spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.
- Different strains of the virus are unique to specific areas such as La Crosse Encephalitis and St. Louis Encephalitis.
- Many people infected have no apparent symptoms. Initial symptoms of those who become ill include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and tiredness. Severe neuroinvasive disease may occur.
- There are no vaccines to prevent nor medications to treat encephalitis.
- Only a few cases are reported in the US annually; most occurring in eastern or Gulf Coast states.
Preventing diseases from mosquitoes
Don’t despair! You can prevent mosquito bites and protect yourself from mosquito related diseases. Remembering ‘the 3 D’s’ will help you protect yourself and your family from these dangerous insects.
- Drain standing water – Mosquitoes lay eggs in stagnant water. In about a week, a little puddle can lead to hundreds of mosquitoes. Change water in bird baths, plant dishes and your pet’s water bowl at least once a week. Consider stocking ponds with mosquito eating fish or using larvicides to treat small bodies of water.
- Dress in long sleeves, pants and light colors – Covering up with loose fitting, light colored fabric will help you stay cool (remember, body heat attracts blood-sucking mosquitoes) while limiting exposed skin.
- Defend yourself with insect repellent. There are 3 important things to look for when buying a mosquito repellent:
- An EPA registration number. This number means the product has been registered by the Environmental Protection Agency. For example, our Stay Away® Mosquitoes has an EPA registration number of 88957-1-82016.
- Picaridin; is an EPA approved compound that works to repel mosquitoes. We recommend Picaridin over another popular compound, DEET for a few reasons. Experts say picaridin keeps mosquitoes further away compared to DEET. Additionally, picaridin doesn’t melt plastic like DEET does, it’s odorless, and doesn’t feel oily on the skin. Pick a repellant with 10+ hours of effectiveness. If you plan on being outside all day, you don’t want to bother with reapplying every hour. Or if you forget to reapply, you might end up paying for it later with irritating, itchy red bumps!
Traditional repellants, sprays and candles can contain harmful chemicals that put you and your loved ones at risk. Not to mention the damage they can do to creatures, too!
Stay Away® Mosquitoes is the simplest way to repel mosquitoes without exposing yourself to harsh chemicals. Our repellant is scent-free, so you smell nothing, and mosquitoes stay far away!