By India Today Web Desk: Counted among the world's deadliest insects, mosquitoes have the ability to spread various diseases to humans and are responsible for millions of deaths annually. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), vector-borne diseases are mainly found in tropical and sub-tropical regions and affect the poorest populations.
Not everyone may fall sick after a bite from an infected mosquito, but in some cases, people develop a mild or long-term illness. However, several cases of mosquito-borne diseases can lead to death if not treated properly.
Although there are several different types of mosquitoes and they act as vendors for different diseases. There are three different types of mosquitoes and the diseases they spread are as follows:
-Aedes mosquitoes: Diseases such as Chikungunya, Dengue, rift valley fever, yellow fever, lymphatic filariasis and Zika are caused by Aedes mosquitoes. They are mainly found in tropical, subtropical, and in temperate climates and prefer to feed on people.
-Anopheles mosquitoes: Anopheles are black or dark brown in colour and can breed in freshwater. Anopheles mosquitoes are primary transmitters of malaria and can also cause lymphatic filariasis.
-Culex mosquitoes: Culex mosquitoes thrive in warmer temperatures and are carriers of Japanese encephalitis that causes 'acute inflammation' of the brain. Culex mosquitoes can also cause lymphatic filariasis and West Nile fever and they breed in dirty, stagnant water.
-Dengue: Considered as one of the deadliest diseases caused by mosquitoes, Dengue is caused by the dengue virus. Some of the common symptoms of dengue are high fever, headache, vomiting, joint pain and skin rash and they are exhibited after 3 to fourteen days after the infection.
A dengue patient may require a time period of minimum of seven days to recover fully. However, there is no definite treatment for dengue as of now, but doctors usually recommend acetaminophen.
In severe cases, dengue fever may escalate into dengue hemorrhagic fever with symptoms such as bleeding under the skin and constant vomiting.
Drinking plenty of fluids and staying hydrated can help prevent dengue and if the case is severe, the patient must be admitted to the hospital and seek medical treatment.
-Malaria: Malaria is caused by Plasmodium vivax and is transmitted through female Anopheles mosquitoes and they mostly bite between dusk and dawn. Anopheles mosquitoes, which breed in rainwater pools, rice fields and pond margins, bite human bodies and transfer the deadly virus into the bloodstream, which affects the liver.
The symptoms of Malaria include chills, sweat, fever and muscle pain and doctors recommend medicines made of quinine for malaria. The malarial parasites multiply at a fast rate inside the human body and need immediate medical attention.
In recent times, there has been a rapid increase in cases of malaria due to urbanisation, industrialisation, construction projects, migration and disposal of goods. Such factors create favourable conditions for mosquitoes' breeding grounds and contribute to the spread of the disease.
Young children, non-immune pregnant women, people with immune-compromised conditions and travellers from endemic areas comprise specific population risk groups.
–West Nile Virus: West Nile Virus is caused by Culex mosquitoes and is seen in animals and birds. However, according to a few medical reports, West Nile Virus can also affect human cells and is transferred through breastfeeding from mothers to children. It affects the blood circulation system in the body and affects the brain cells too.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), most people do not develop any symptoms in West Nile disease. In severe cases, symptoms such as high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis may occur. People above 60 years of age are at a greater risk.
-Yellow Fever: Yellow fever is caused by Aedes mosquitoes and the virus stays in the human body for a period of three to seven days. One can exhibit symptoms such as headache, fever and nausea only after that.
They are mostly found in South America and Africa and, as of now, only temporary treatments for yellow fever have been developed. One must follow extreme hygiene and health conditions to avoid yellow fever. However, in most cases, the patient is seen to retract if the vaccine is not showing effective signs of improvement.
-Chikungunya: Chikungunya is caused by Aedes mosquitoes and some of its common symptoms are headache, joint pain, vomiting, back pain and skin rashes. It is considered a viral disease and, in most cases, a patient takes seven days to recover.
In some cases, the pain may last for months or even years and it has some similar symptoms to Zika and dengue, which requires immediate medical attention.
One must drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated by drinking enough water in Chikungunya. You should take medication recommended by doctors and medical professionals and follow a well-balanced diet.
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