7 diseases caused by mosquito bites

Mosquito_Bites_

Overview

Mosquitoes are troublesome living organisms, especially for humans since primitive times. Not only because they feed on human blood and cause skin itchiness and rashes but also because they are the carriers of many diseases. 

Mosquitoes, while feeding blood from any organism, often swallow bacteria, parasites, or viruses present in that organism. They pass these microorganisms to other organisms that they feed on. In this manner, mosquitoes spread disease-causing parasites, bacteria, and viruses—such diseases are called mosquito-borne diseases. 

Even while being the carrier of disease-causing microorganisms, mosquitoes will not get affected by them. But they cause mild to severe symptoms to humans based on the disease they spread. 

What are the diseases caused by mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes are responsible for spreading various diseases. They can be vector-borne, parasitic or bacterial diseases. The rate of spread of diseases by mosquitoes is highest in tropical areas. Some of the serious diseases caused by a mosquito bite are:

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Malaria

Malaria is one of the ancient diseases that affects humans. It is one of the most prominent diseases caused by mosquitoes in India. 

It is caused by the malarial parasite known as Plasmodium. This parasite is transmitted by female Anopheles mosquitoes upon feeding on human blood. 

Malaria is caused by the following four types of Plasmodium parasites:

  • P. falciparum
  • P. vivax
  • P. ovale
  • P. malariae

Malaria can pose a real threat to your life if left untreated. However, treatments for malaria are readily available in most places. Malaria is nearly eradicated in European nations, while it is still a big burden in countries that fall between the tropical areas. 

Malaria is not a contagious disease. It spreads through:

  • blood transfusion
  • organ transplantation
  • shared syringes and needles
  • mother to child

Common symptoms of malaria

The following are some of the common symptoms of malaria:

With proper preventive measures and treatments, this disease can be eradicated.

Dengue

Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease that is most common in tropical and sub-tropical areas. There are four types of viruses that are responsible for causing dengue, and all are transmitted by mosquitoes. 

Most dengue cases are caused by female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. They carry the dengue virus by feeding a dengue-affected person and spreading them around. 

You will not get dengue by being around a dengue-affected person. Once you get dengue from any one of the four viruses, you will develop long-term immunity to that particular virus but not to the other three types. 

Dengue is also one of the common diseases caused by mosquitoes in India. The vector-borne mosquito diseases’ symptoms vary based on the type of infection and its severity. Dengue symptoms include:

  • Bone, joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Pain in eyes
  • Swollen glands

If the dengue virus affects the blood vessels and reduces the platelet count in the blood, it is a clear indication of severe dengue. This is called hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome. It is the most extreme form of dengue and can lead to organ failure, internal bleeding and even death. 

Some of its symptoms include:

  • Extreme stomach pain
  • Gum bleeding and nose bleeding
  • Blood in urine, stool or vomit
  • Skin bruises with blood under the skin
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Severe fatigue

If you experience any of the symptoms, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. Severe dengue is a life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical intervention. 

Zika virus

Zika virus spreads through the species of Aedes mosquitoes. These types of mosquitoes are found all over the world. Mostly, people who have been bitten by such mosquitoes wouldn’t show any symptoms. 

However, this virus can be detrimental to some people, especially pregnant women.

Zika virus makes a person exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Joint pain, especially in hands or feet
  • Fever
  • Rashes
  • Red eyes
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue and discomfort
  • Pain in the eyes

The risk of the Zika virus is more in pregnant women. It causes serious birth defects and also affects infants. This is known as Congenital Zika Syndrome. The risks in infants include:

  • Smaller brain and head size (microcephaly)
  • Brain damage
  • Reduced brain tissue
  • Damage in eyes
  • Joint problems with reduced mobility

This virus can be prevented by having a clean environment and employing techniques to avoid exposure to mosquitoes. 

Yellow fever

Yellow fever is a viral disease caused by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, the same type of mosquito that causes dengue. Mostly, people affected by this virus do not show any symptoms. However, its severity can increase and the symptoms can also be severe in the worst cases. 

It is one of the common diseases caused by a mosquito bite that affects both humans and monkeys. If the infection becomes severe, it affects major organs such as the heart, liver and kidney.

People with yellow fever show some of the following symptoms:

  • Muscle ache in back and knees
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness 
  • Loss of appetite

If the disease is severe, the symptoms include:

  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Decreased urination
  • Bleeding through nose, eyes and mouth
  • Kidney and liver failure
  • Brain dysfunctions, seizures and coma

This disease can be prevented with vaccines. A single dose of vaccine can give protection for up to 10 years. In addition, reducing exposure to mosquitoes can help in preventing this disease.

Chikungunya

Chikungunya is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes that cause severe muscle pain and fever. This is one of the common diseases caused by a mosquito bite. It is not a fatal disease but causes discomfort in muscles and joints. 

Chikungunya does not usually pose serious symptoms. It generally causes discomfort for a limited time. But some people may experience pain in joints that can extend even for months. 

Some common symptoms of Chikungunya include:

  • Sudden high fever
  • Pain in muscles and joints
  • Arthritis
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Maculopapular rash
  • Conjunctivitis

Out of all diseases caused by mosquitoes in India, the threat of Chikungunya is often overshadowed by Malaria and Dengue. However, this disease can pose a serious threat if left unchecked.

Since there is no vaccine to prevent this disease, Chikungunya can be prevented using mosquito repellents, covering the windows and incorporating techniques to avoid exposure to mosquitoes.

Lymphatic filariasis

Lymphatic filariasis is a disease spread by mosquitoes. This parasitic disease is also known as elephantiasis. It causes abnormal swell in body parts such as calves and thickening of the skin. 

If you search on the internet about diseases caused by mosquitoes with pictures, you will see some pictures in which people have huge inflammation in calves, arms and scrotum. This is caused by filarial parasites—a type of roundworm that is transmitted by mosquitoes. 

Most of the affected people do not show any serious symptoms. But for some people, severe symptoms start appearing at later stages. They include:

  • Inflammation
  • Lymphedema—accumulation of fluid in the lymphatic system
  • Hydrocele—fluid build-up and swelling in the scrotum
  • Edema—swelling in arms, legs, breasts, etc.

When parasitic worms enter your bloodstream through mosquito bites, they travel to your lymphatic system. They stay there for up to 7 years and make their own asymbiotic environment. From there, they reproduce and release numerous worms into your bloodstream. 

There is no vaccine to prevent this disease. There is also no solid treatment to cure this disease. 

Japanese encephalitis

Japanese encephalitis is a common viral infection caused by mosquitoes, especially in Asia. It is caused by flavivirus that belongs to the same genus as that of Dengue and Yellow fever. It is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes. 

Japanese encephalitis was first documented in Japan in 1871, hence the name. Encephalitis causes inflammation in the brain and causes severe fever with seizures, headache, confusion and can even lead to death.

Some common symptoms of Japanese encephalitis include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremours
  • Disorientation in the brain
  • Convulsions in children 
  • Coma

This disease can be prevented by a vaccine with usually two doses. Apart from vaccines, a hygienic and clean environment will greatly reduce the proliferation of mosquitoes that cause this disease. 

To conclude

Most mosquito-borne diseases are caused because of the rapid spread of mosquitoes. Due to the fact that mosquitoes thrive in a warm and moist climate, many diseases borne by mosquitoes are common in tropical areas. 

But with global warming and change in the climatic pattern all over the world, the risk of mosquito-borne diseases can widen even beyond the tropics. 

Proper mosquito-controlling mechanisms and keeping a clean surrounding will greatly help in preventing these diseases. 

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