5 Mosquito-Borne Diseases You Need to Know

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Mosquito-borne diseases are one of the most significant burdens to public health, causing illness in millions and killing hundreds of thousands of people. Infections like Malaria and the West Nile virus are not exclusive to tropical countries. The United States deals with thousands of these types of mosquito-borne diseases every year.

5 Mosquito-Borne Diseases You Need to Know

As Ben Franklin said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so keep reading the learn how to protect yourself.

1. Malaria

Malaria is one of the most commonly known illnesses carried by mosquitoes. It is a severe tropical mosquito borne disease, causing flu-like symptoms. Signs often include a very high fever, chills, sweating, stomach issues, pain, and a general unwell feeling.

While it is rampant in other parts of the world like South Asia and Africa, Malaria also infects around 2,000 people in the United States each year. However, preventative medication for travelers and other interventions help keep these numbers low.

2. West Nile Virus

The West Nile virus is the most infectious mosquito-borne illness in the US. Cases start around the beginning of summer throughout autumn. While eighty percent of infected people don’t show signs of infection; the remainder exhibit symptoms like

  • Headache
  • Pain
  • Diarrhea & vomiting
  • Rash
  • Fatigue

Around one per 150 infected with West Nile Virus have a severe infection. These include:

  • Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
  • High fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Tremor
  • Paralysis
  • Loss of vision
  • Stupor
  • Coma

Nervous system damage can be lifelong. The symptoms of mosquito borne diseases like the West Nile virus can be treated, but there is no cure, meaning preventing mosquito bites is crucial.

3. La Crosse Encephalitis

La Crosse encephalitis is spread by mosquitoes in the mid-Atlantic, upper Midwest, and states toward the southeast. Most cases are asymptomatic, but a minor amount impacts the nervous system causing encephalitis, seizures, paralysis, and coma.

It often occurs in children and young adults and is most dangerous in those under the age of 16. Testing for the virus is difficult, but it’s important to identify because of the neurological problems it can cause.

4. Jamestown Canyon Virus

The Jamestown Canyon virus spreads through mosquito bites and brings on symptoms that range in severity. They often include sudden flu-like symptoms, headache, fatigue, and fever. In some cases, an infected person may develop encephalitis, neck stiffness, confusion, ataxia, difficulty talking, and seizures.

The majority of cases originate in the upper Midwest of the United States. Vaccines for mosquito borne diseases like the Jamestown Canyon virus have not been made, so therapeutic and supportive treatment is typical. Mosquito pest control is an essential method of prevention for such illnesses.

5. St. Louis Encephalitis

St. Louis Encephalitis is thought to be closely related to the Jamestown Canyon virus. The majority of those infected are asymptomatic. Symptoms begin between four to fourteen days after the initial bite and include

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Upset stomach
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Tremors
  • Disorientation
  • Coma

Older people have a higher chance of developing a severe infection than those age 50 or under. Treatment includes taking care of the symptoms, as there is no cure.

Preventing Mosquito-borne Diseases Simplified

Mosquito-borne diseases are ancient and ongoing, causing a significant impact on public health. Understanding the different types of illness spread by mosquitoes and where infections happen will help you begin prevention efforts.

If you would like more information on mosquito-borne diseases, take a look at the rest of our blog.

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