Top 6: Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Top 6: Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Mosquitoes can put a damper on outdoor and indoor good times from their annoying buzz to an itchy irritation after they bite. They also pose a significant concern to humans due to the diseases they are known to carry and transmit during their blood feeding activity.

6. Chikungunya
In 2013, with outbreaks prevalent in Africa, Europe, and Asia, chikungunya virus was discovered for the first time on islands in the Caribbean. Symptoms including a headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and rash are common and usually appear within seven days of being bitten. While the disease is not life threatening, there is the risk of prolonged joint pain. But once a person is infected, he/she is likely to not experience future infections. Presently, there is no vaccine to prevent chikungunya.

5. Dengue Fever
Spread from person-to-person by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with the dengue virus. Dengue fever occurs in tropical areas throughout the world including Asia, China, Central and South America, and even Mexico. Cases in the United States usually are attributed to travel abroad and have increased for people living along the Mexico border. Symptoms can last for up to 10 days with high fever, eye pain, joint and muscle pain, vomiting, and skin rash. There is not yet a vaccine for dengue, so the current treatment for this disease involves supportive care and treating the symptoms of dengue. A more severe form of dengue, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) can cause failure of the circulatory system, shock, and can be fatal if not recognized.

4. Yellow Fever
Found in the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America, yellow fever is transmitted by infected mosquitos that have either fed on a primate or other infected human. Symptoms are flu-like and characterized by fever, chills, severe headache, body aches, fatigue, and nausea. In severe cases, yellow fever can be fatal characterized by high fever, jaundice, and subsequent organ failure. The only treatment is based on the symptoms presented, and for people working in these areas, proper insect repellent and protective clothing should be worn to prevent mosquito bites. Vaccination is recommended for people living in or traveling to areas where yellow fever is reported.

3. Malaria
Malaria has caused numerous outbreaks and epidemics on a global scale with a history that can be traced back more than 4,000 years. The malaria parasite can infect both humans and mosquitoes, where mosquitoes serve as a vector passing the disease from human to human. Displaying many of the flu-like symptoms found in yellow fever, dormant parasites in the liver can reactivate causing another bout of symptoms days or months following the initial exposure. If left untreated, malaria can cause severe, recurring illness and complications leading to death.

2. West Nile Virus
West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne illness transmitted to humans in the United States. While most people infected with West Nile virus may not experience any symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash. Though most people recover completely, fatigue can last for weeks and even months following exposure. The most important symptoms that may occur in less than 1% of people who are infected involve the neurologic symptoms of encephalitis and meningitis among elderly and infants who are infected. There is no vaccine for West Nile virus.

1. Zika Virus
Lastly, Zika virus has been one of the most documented diseases in recent years with cases numbering in the thousands worldwide and newer cases developing the United States. Spread by mosquitoes, it’s particularly troublesome because it can affect women who are pregnant and their fetus with future birth defects. While Zika is not life-threatening for adults, it can cause microcephaly, an abnormally smaller head in babies, and cause fetal brain defects. There is no vaccine or cure for Zika and it also displays little to no symptoms of infection. Expectant mothers should be extremely cautious in areas where Zika cases have been diagnosed and take considerable care in preventing exposure to mosquitoes.

“Yellow Fever” CDC
“Malaria” CDC
“Dengue Fever” WebMD
“Zika Virus” CDC
“West Nile virus” CDC
“Chikungunya Virus” CDC