“Mosquitoes are perhaps the most dangerous animals in the world.”
Those were the words of Dr. Omar Akbari, an assistant professor of entomology at the Center for Disease Vector Research at the University of California Riverside, to Healthline.
“They are the primary vectors for major human diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, and dengue fever, which together infect hundreds of millions of humans worldwide and kill millions each year.”
Indeed, those pesky little creatures are nothing to mess around with. And while we might like to swat them away and hope for the best, the odds are inconceivably against us.
How so? For starters, there are roughly 175 different species of mosquito in the United States alone. But here’s the real, terrifying kicker: There are somewhere between 70 and 100 quadrillion (that’s 15 zeros added on) mosquitoes on Earth. That translates into between 10 and 13 million mosquitoes per person.
That’s not only gross, it’s dangerous – especially when you consider the terrible diseases they carry: According to the World Health Organization, approximately 500 million people are infected with diseases through mosquito bite every year, and 2.7 million die thereafter.
Here’s a look at some of the most common diseases transmitted by mosquitos in the United States, and a look at how they affect us.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis
Commonly referred to as “EEE” or “Triple E,” this disease is most prevalent in eastern and coastal states and was first detected in North America in Massachusetts. EEE has two forms, the worst of which causes swelling of the brain and, if infected patients survive, can cause permanent and severe mental and physical handicaps. Fatality rate is approximately 33 percent, and there is no cure for the disease.
West Nile Virus
Most people infected with West Nile never know it’s happened, though it may still result in a serious fever with other flu-like symptoms. In the most severe cases, which happens in about one percent of infections, the central nervous system is infected and patients can experience encephalitis (swelling of the brain), meningitis (swelling of the protective meninges of the brain), meningoencephalitis (swelling of both the brain and meninges), and spinal cord inflammation, which acts similarly to polio and can cause paralysis. There is no cure for West Nile. The most recent severe epidemic came in 2012, when a new strain was introduced and caused many cases across the country.
Related to the extremely dangerous dengue fever and yellow fever (diseases also commonly carried and transmitted by mosquitos, but typically in Africa), Zika can inflict several severe medical conditions. Among adults, it can cause the onset of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which can affect the immune system, peripheral nervous system, and the autonomic nervous system and can cause muscle weakness – which, in turn, cause severe respiratory issues and sometimes an inability to breathe – as well as abnormalities in heart rate and blood pressure. It can be transmitted from pregnant mothers to unborn babies and can cause severe brain malformations and microcephaly. Researchers are studying a correlation between Zika and reduced testosterone and even infertility in men.
Mosquitos are dangerous creatures and shouldn’t be taken lightly and need immediately mosquito control. Find out how you can control the presence of mosquitos around your home or business and what to do if you have an infestation.