Mosquito Update: Chikungunya & West Nile Viruses

July 13, 2015By

Mosquitoes are known for being carriers of disease, but most people don’t realize how dangerous they truly are. In recent years, the CDC has paid close attention to habits of mosquitoes and the viruses they spread, and what they have found is extremely alarming.

mosquito bite

It turns out these flying pests do more than just nip and annoy. They can transfer any number of viruses, such as West Nile, Chikungunya, Hepatitis, and a host of other horrible things.

As science learns more about mosquitoes, and global travel to regions where people carry several diseases continues to climb, the threat from mosquitoes has become all too real for people around the world.

Recent Stats

As many as 2.5 billion people in over 100 countries have been exposed at some level to diseases spread by mosquitoes. Diseases such as West Nile and Chikungunya spread so rapidly that it’s almost impossible to contain them.

For many people, they don’t tend to show symptoms, as the levels of disease are kept just below the point where they would be apparent to the individual. However, the diseases tend to be prevalent enough in hosts that they are re-transmitted when mosquitoes who haven’t been exposed attempt to make a meal of contaminated individuals.

In fact, the diseases have spread to the point that one in three people on the planet have been infected at some level.

For most of us, these diseases aren’t something we tend to notice. If we do get infected, we might only feel the effects if compounded, as in if we overexert ourselves or get sick with anything else.

The symptoms of fever are common enough that it can be hard to pinpoint what is the cause without blood work, but the viruses do tend to show up when people are tested, especially in the summer.

Hot Spots

The West Nile virus and Chikungunya are so widespread that it can be hard to say that one area is a hot spot, but if you look at mosquito breeding populations and surges in infections, areas like Texas, the Southeast US, and the Caribbean tend to stand out. With the high concentration of water, marshlands, humidity, and lots of people, these are ideal areas for mosquitoes to breed.

In areas that are protected, such as marsh lands, it can be difficult to get permission to treat for mosquitoes. This can cause a surge in the population.

Also, after a major storm (such as a hurricane) the population can jump. This is because standing water tends to be more common, and that means more areas for mosquitoes to breed.

Locations Travelers Should Be Aware Of

When traveling, beware of hot, humid climates. Also, be mindful of areas where medical supplies haven’t made the rounds. If you are in an area that has standing or stagnant water, you may want to take extra precautions. Avoid areas that are near drainage ditches, and be careful about inland ponds as well.

Remember, water is like a magnet for mosquitoes, and they tend to breed quickly, especially when the temperatures are hot. In warm areas with lots of people, such as the Caribbean, there’s a strong chance that diseases are likely to spread from bites, so take extra precautions.

Mosquitoes can easily ruin a good time, but more than that, they can spread disease and infection. If you believe that you are going to be in an area where mosquito populations are high, be sure to take extra precautions.

There’s no point in risking your health, and with the number of diseases mosquitoes are known for carrying, it’s only a matter of time before a little bite turns into a big problem.

Filed in: Mosquito