Of all the insects, mosquitoes seem to be not only the most annoying but also the most dangerous ones. There are several mosquito-borne infections that can lead to severe illness and if not treated, can prove fatal. The word “mosquito” (formed by Mosca and diminutive -ito) is Spanish for “little fly”. While male mosquitoes are mostly harmless and live on extracts of trees, leaves and flower nectars, the ‘femme fatale’ has a proboscis, a small tube-like mouthpart which it uses to pierce the skin to consume or suck blood. It’s while sucking blood, viruses of different diseases like Malaria, Yellow Fever, Encephalitis, Chikungunya, Dengue and Zika are transported from one host body to the other. Female mosquitoes need protein for their eggs and, they take a “blood meal” in order to reproduce.
Fifty years ago, just a couple of countries reported dengue or malaria outbreaks; now it is endemic in more than 120 nations. Easy transport and communication have made this possible. The transport networks that knit our world together have spread mosquitoes across the world and the explosion in urban living over the same period has ensured a ready supply of people to feed on and all sorts of new habitats to live in. Mosquitoes need water to breed and, as water is an integral part of human living, it has made it easier for the mosquitoes to thrive everywhere, be it dingy slums or posh apartments.
Scenario in India
Recently, dengue fever has literally taken India by storm. Dengue is the fastest-growing mosquito-borne viral infection, and its impact today is 30 times greater than 50 years ago!
Dengue symptoms range from mild to severe and, as there is no vaccine, the best way to prevent is to avoid mosquito bites.
Symptoms of Dengue Fever
It starts like flu with a severe headache and muscle/joint pain. There could be a high temperature with skin rash, pain behind the eyes, nausea and vomiting.
Early detection is necessary as the body starts losing fluid rapidly. A proper blood test can detect dengue. Consulting the doctor is always advisable. A severe condition may arise when symptoms of dengue fever are detected to be Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and Dengue shock syndrome(DSS)
Dengue is transmitted by the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are found throughout the world. They tend to bite during the early hours of the morning. Taking precautionary measures both indoors and outdoors is of utmost importance. Using personal repellents is an effective measure. Among a number of brands, Good Knight fabric roll-on stands apart. It even comes with different fragrance making it a fun for kids. For indoors, Good Knight Activ+ serves the purpose efficiently.
But, above all, we should be vigilant enough not to leave any unused pot, tub or anything full of water both inside and outside. The stagnant, fresh water helps in the breeding of mosquitoes.
The Zika virus has yet to reach India but the same Aedes mosquitoes are responsible for this.
Most mosquitoes emerge from their watery breeding ground and stay close to it. Thus they spread the disease fast in a particular locality/district.
The mortality rate due to mosquito-borne diseases is about one in a hundred, but as the World Health Organisation’s estimation goes, there at least 100 million infections occur a year. So, it is still a serious health issue and, we should try our best to prevent breeding of mosquitoes.