Every year on August 20, the world celebrates World Mosquito Day to raise awareness about the dangers of mosquitoes and how to protect yourself against mosquito-borne diseases. Beyond malaria and dengue fever, mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting many other diseases that continue to affect millions of lives around the world. We cover some of the most important mosquito-borne diseases that everyone should be aware of.
Here are 7 most common diseases caused by mosquito bites that you should know about:
Malaria is one of the best-known mosquito-borne diseases and affects millions of people each year. It is caused by a single-celled parasite of the genus Plasmodium. The parasite is most often transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. Dr. Rajesh Kumar Budhiraja, intern physician at Faridabad Asian Hospital, says: “It leads to fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and flu-like symptoms. In severe cases, symptoms include breathing problems, decreased cognition, and organ failure. If left untreated, malaria can be fatal. To avoid it, use mosquito nets, indoor residual sprays and antimalarial drugs.
2. Dengue Fever
“The Aedes mosquito, which spreads dengue fever, breeds in standing bodies of water, often on construction sites, hot water tanks, swimming pools, factories and abandoned waste that has not been treated. for a long time,” says Dr. Kumar. Its symptoms include high fever for a week or more, severe joint and muscle pain, eye discomfort, and in severe cases, hemorrhagic fever or shock syndrome. Those who get dengue again are more likely to develop severe dengue, which can be life-threatening.
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are responsible for carrying and transmitting the infectious chikungunya virus to humans. Some of the typical symptoms include fever, joint discomfort and swelling, muscle aches, headaches, and rashes, among others. Dr. Kumar says: “Although the person infected with chikungunya tends to get better within a week and is rarely fatal, joint discomfort can last for months or even years. »
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The Zika virus, transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, has attracted worldwide attention due to its side effects such as birth defects and neurological disorders. Pregnant women and those considering pregnancy are therefore advised to take precautions. She may develop dengue-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. To avoid it, use insect repellents, wear long-sleeved clothing, and eliminate mosquito breeding sites.
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5. Yellow fever
Yellow fever is a viral infection transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. Symptoms range from mild fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, back pain, headache, and fatigue to severe jaundice and internal bleeding. “Although patients with yellow fever generally improve within five days, it claims the lives of 30,000 people every year worldwide,” says Dr Kumar. But yellow fever is not present in India.
6. West Nile Virus
“Transmitted through the bite of infected Culex mosquitoes, West Nile virus can cause a range of symptoms, from mild fever to severe neurological disorders,” says Dr. Aniket Mule, internal medicine consultant at Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road, Mumbai. Although the majority of cases are mild, older people and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of developing serious complications.
7. Japanese encephalitis
“Japanese encephalitis is a viral brain infection transmitted by Culex mosquitoes. Although most cases are mild or asymptomatic, severe cases can lead to inflammation of the brain and lead to coma or death,” says Dr. Mule. Vaccination is recommended for those residing in or traveling to affected areas.
How to prevent mosquito-borne diseases?
Follow these 5 tips to prevent mosquito-borne diseases:
1. Use insect repellent
One of the most effective ways to prevent mosquito bites and reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases is to use insect repellent. Choose an insect repellent containing DEET, as it is the most effective against mosquitoes and lasts a long time.
2. Appropriate clothing is essential
Wear protective clothing and preferably choose long-sleeved, light-colored clothing made from breathable fabrics such as cotton.
3. Don’t let water pool around you
Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so be sure to clean and empty any containers that may hold water, such as pots, buckets, and flower vases.
4. Use a mosquito net
Sleeping under a mosquito net can also help prevent mosquito bites. Make sure the mosquito net has no holes or tears and that it is properly secured and tucked under the mattress to prevent mosquito entry.
5. Stay indoors
Finally, mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so staying indoors during these times can greatly reduce the risk of being bitten.
Keep these tips in mind and avoid increasing your risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases!