How to protect yourself and your family from mosquito-borne diseases

Categories: HEALTH

How to protect yourself and your family from mosquito-borne diseases

Diseases that are spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito are known as mosquito-borne diseases. The illnesses that mosquitoes transmit can be brought on by a virus, such as Zika fever, or a parasite, such in the case of malaria.

While some of these agents, such as the parasite that causes malaria, have been known to infect people for thousands of years, others, like the chikungunya and Zika viruses, have just recently been discovered. The potential for mosquitoes to spread and subsequently spread disease on a larger scale has expanded as a result of factors including urbanisation, international travel, and the growth of the human population.

Mosquito-Transmitted Viral Diseases

Mosquitoes transmit numerous diseases to people and animals that are brought on by viruses and other sorts of germs. A succinct explanation of some important mosquito-borne viral diseases affecting humans is given here.

Chikungunya: Even while it rarely results in death, the chikungunya virus can induce crippling joint agony that can linger for weeks. In addition to discomfort, typical symptoms include fever and rash. The virus is comparable to dengue virus and is categorised as an alphavirus. Both viruses are spread by Aedes mosquitoes, particularly Aedes aegypti, and both cause many of the same symptoms.

The chikungunya virus first appeared in Africa's tropical regions. Then it moved north into Europe and east into Asia. When the virus first appeared in the Caribbean in 2013 and quickly spread to Central America, South America, and North America, there were the first reports of chikungunya in the Americas. More than 60 nations in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas have now been found to have Chikungunya.

Infection cases were detected in about 1.7 million people in the Americas by 2016. Although there have been around 800 reports of people in 44 states catching the virus while travelling in regions where chikungunya was prevalent in the local mosquito populations, the virus is not currently spreading within the United States.

Dengue: High fever, headache, joint pain, and rash are all symptoms of dengue fever, which is brought on by the dengue virus. Dengue hemorrhagic fever, a more serious variation, can be fatal in rare cases and can cause bleeding and breathing problems.

Dengue viruses come in four different varieties and are part of the flavivirus family, which also includes the West Nile, yellow fever, and Zika viruses. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are the main vectors of dengue, are found in more than 100 different countries.

Dengue is the most widespread vector-borne virus disease in the world, causing 25,000 fatalities annually and an estimated 50 to 100 million cases. It is a major contributor to disease and fatalities in the tropics and subtropics.

Due to the disease's expansion into new geographical areas, dengue incidence has rapidly increased in recent decades. Dengue infection is becoming more common, while it is still uncommon in the United States. It is primarily brought on by travel to areas where the disease is endemic, however some instances have been locally acquired.

Elephantiasis: Elephantiasis, also known as lymphatic filariasis, is a condition that can make skin thick and hard like an elephant's, as well as causing swelling in the arms and legs. Millions of low-income individuals in tropical areas are affected by it, which is spread by infected mosquitoes, but you cannot get it in Australia. The majority of infected individuals do not exhibit any overt symptoms, yet they may still experience renal and lymph system damage. They still have a role in the parasite's spread.

Elephantiasis can cause swelling in some people known as lymphoedema (a fluid buildup) because it affects the lymphatic system. The affected areas are typically the arms, legs, breasts, or genitalia. Hydrocele, or a swollen scrotum in men, is a common condition.

The immune system is impaired by elephantiasis, which causes fever, chills, recurrent skin infections, and ulcers. The skin may become thick and rigid as a result. Eosinophilia is a blood condition that some people can get and that causes coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Elephantiasis is a painful condition brought on by the ingestion of microscopic parasite larvae through mosquito bites. In endemic places, it is a significant contributor to disability. Microscopic larvae are left on the skin after being bitten by an infected mosquito and can enter the body of the victim. When the larvae reach the lymphatic system, they can mature into roundworms and spend years there.

Lymphatic filariasis is typically contracted as a child, although symptoms don't manifest themselves until later in life. Elephantiasis affects over 120 million individuals worldwide, mostly in Asia, Africa, the Western Pacific, and areas of the Caribbean and South America.

West Nile: After being discovered for the first time in Uganda's West Nile region in 1937, the West Nile virus quickly spread to numerous other nations in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. A virus strain that was prevalent in Israel and Tunisia was brought into New York in 1999, causing a significant outbreak that later expanded across the entire continental United States. In the Americas today, the West Nile virus is well-established.

The flavivirus family of viruses includes the West Nile virus. It is mostly spread by Culex mosquitoes. Mosquitoes pick up the virus when they feed on infected birds, who constitute the virus's reservoir. The virus may or may not kill the bird, depending on the strain and the kind of bird. The American strain is highly harmful for birds, especially crows, and the presence of dead birds can be a sign that the West Nile virus is present.

The virus circulates in the mosquito's blood for a few days after ingesting an infected bird before making its way to the salivary gland. The virus is injected and can make the person who was bitten sick when the mosquito feeds on blood again. The West Nile virus can infect horses as well, but unlike birds, horses cannot spread the illness.

Yellow Fever: In those who have symptoms from the yellow fever virus (many do not), these include fever, headache, muscle soreness, and nausea, which can first be mistaken for malaria. However, a tiny proportion of symptomatic individuals progress to a more serious stage where they experience bleeding from the mouth, nose, and eyes as well as jaundice, a liver and kidney disease that causes the skin and eyes to turn yellow, giving the virus its name. The disease will result in mortality in roughly 50% of those who reach this second phase.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, sometimes referred to as yellow fever mosquitoes, typically transmit the virus, which is categorised as a flavivirus. Yellow fever is prevalent in many nations in Africa, Central and South America, and is no longer a concern in the United States, despite the fact that it has in the past produced devastating epidemics. When the virus is introduced into densely populated areas with high mosquito concentrations where the human population has little to no immunity, as is happening right now in Africa, there is a greater danger of a yellow fever outbreak.

Malaria: The parasites that cause malaria are members of the plasmodium family. If you are bitten by an infected mosquito, you could contract malaria. The sickness that malaria produces might harm your liver and red blood cells. If you don't get treatment right away, it can even be fatal. Malaria is one of those illnesses that is best avoided than treated. Occasionally, blood transfusions can spread malaria. If you visit a nation where malaria is common, you won't be able to give blood for a while after you get back to Australia. Malaria cannot be transmitted from person to person directly.

In some regions of Asia, Africa, Central and South America, the Pacific Islands, and the Middle East, malaria is a frequent disease. Despite being uncommon in the majority of Australia, it does occasionally impact the Torres Strait Islands. It's crucial to take care to avoid contracting malaria when visiting locations where it is prevalent. In general, rural locations have a higher risk of malaria than urban areas.

Anyone can contract malaria, but young children and expectant women are more susceptible to the disease. If you are expecting a child, use extra caution because malaria might raise your risk of miscarriage, early birth, and stillbirth. Young children are particularly very vulnerable and can get sick very rapidly if exposed.

Zika: Most persons who contract the Zika virus, the most recent of these mosquito-borne viruses to appear, experience no symptoms or just a minor illness that may include fever, rash, and joint discomfort. But in growing foetuses of pregnant women who have the condition, the virus can cause severe neurological abnormalities. Numerous children born to these moms have microcephaly, an uncommon disease in which a baby's head is significantly smaller than usual. This birth abnormality can cause developmental issues that range in severity from moderate to lethal.

As a flavivirus, the Zika virus is mostly spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Before it suddenly appeared in Brazil in 2015 and spread quickly throughout Latin America, Zika was a mysterious virus that was not linked to catastrophic illness. Since the Zika virus had not before been identified in the Americas, no one was immune to it, making almost everyone vulnerable.

Since its emergence, Zika has geographically moved to areas with conducive circumstances for the insects that transmit the virus. The Caribbean, Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and portions of Central and South America are among these regions. Local mosquito populations in Florida and Texas have been responsible for the local spread of Zika within the United States.

Barmah Forest virus: An ailment called the Barmah Forest virus disease is spread from animals to people by mosquitoes. It only occurs in Australia and is prevalent throughout most of the country, especially around inland waterways and coastal areas. The virus does not cause death, and those who suffer the sickness recover. You need a blood test to determine whether you have the Barmah Forest virus. Managing the symptoms is part of the treatment. Not all situations call for medical care.

The majority of patients recover within a few weeks, but some people may experience joint discomfort, fatigue, and stiffness in their muscles for up to six months. You must avoid mosquito bites in order to protect yourself against the Barmah Forest virus.

Cover up as much skin as you can and stay inside in the early morning or at twilight to reduce your risk of being bitten by midges and mosquitoes. When you are outside and there are mosquitoes nearby, screen any living spaces and use insect repellent.

Mosquito-borne diseases Prevention

The breeding and biting of mosquitoes, particularly those that can transmit diseases that can make you ill, can increase in warm, damp weather. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, two mosquito species that are often associated with warmer temperatures, are not yet established in this state. Travellers from Minnesota who visit tropical and subtropical regions run the risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and the Zika virus.

Avoiding mosquito bites is your only defence against mosquitoes and the diseases they may bring. Travellers to specific regions of South America, Africa, and South Asia run the risk of contracting malaria, a deadly illness spread by Anopheles insects. It is crucial to know how to protect oneself from mosquito-borne diseases when travelling because visitors to other countries may also be susceptible to other, less frequent, mosquito-borne diseases.

According to a recent WHO study, more than 12 major vector-borne diseases are spread throughout the world and are estimated to cause more than 7,00,000 deaths annually. These diseases include chikungunya fever, Zika virus fever, yellow fever, West Nile fever, Japanese encephalitis, dengue, and malaria.

This has mostly been driven by the century-long trend of rapidly changing global climates, which has greatly accelerated the global spread of infectious and vector-borne diseases.

Mosquitoes carry more diseases among people than any other animal, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Therefore, it is crucial for people and families to regularly practise vector control techniques in light of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the monsoon season in India in order to stop and eradicate local disease transmission.

Mosquito-borne diseases including dengue fever, malaria, and the Zika virus can seriously endanger the health of you and your family.

Here are some ways you can protect yourself from these diseases:

Use mosquito repellent: On all exposed skin, apply insect repellents containing picaridin or DEET. To avoid mosquito bites, spray insect repellent on exposed skin. Be on the lookout for products like DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Wear protective clothing: Tight clothing is not immune to mosquito bites. When feasible, cover up as little skin as possible by donning long sleeves and trousers.

Eliminate standing water: Eliminate any sources of standing water near your home since they serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. This involves clearing out and cleaning gutters, plant pots, and birdbaths.

Use mosquito nets: To avoid mosquito bites, sleep with a mosquito net. Don't forget the kids, and always read the label on your insect repellent. You may need to apply repellent on babies' clothing rather than their skin by spraying or rubbing it on. Never put repellant on a baby's or small child's hands.

Keep doors and windows closed: To keep mosquitoes out of your house, close the windows and doors and install screens.

Be aware of peak mosquito hours: Try to stay inside during these hours because dawn and dusk are when mosquitoes are most active. Make sure your lodging has mosquito netting or screens when you're on vacation.

Stay informed: Use mosquito coils, plug-in repellent, or fly spray where you congregate to sit or dine outside. Take the required precautions and stay up to date on any local mosquito-borne disease outbreaks.

You may help safeguard yourself and your family from mosquito-borne diseases.


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