Many of us think of mosquitoes as just another pest that can ruin a picnic. But did you know that the mosquito is one of the most dangerous animals on the planet? According to the World Health Organization, mosquitoes are responsible for millions of human illnesses and deaths every year.
What is a mosquito-borne disease?
A mosquito-borne disease is simply any disease that is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. When mosquitos bite a human or animal that has certain diseases, the mosquito can become infected with viruses or parasites. The mosquito can then transmit the virus or parasite to the next human or animal they bite.
Mosquitoes only transmit a handful of diseases. Mosquito-borne diseases include:
- West Nile virus
- Zika virus
- Yellow fever
- Rift valley fever
- Encephalitis (several strains)
Many mosquito-borne diseases have been transmitted within the United States. Human cases of mosquito-borne diseases that have been found in Georgia since 2015 include West Nile virus and four strains of encephalitis.
Fortunately, human cases of mosquito-borne diseases are uncommon. From 2012-2016, the average annual rate of human infection from a mosquito was only 6 infections for every 100,000 people.
Symptoms of Mosquito-borne Diseases
Most mosquitoes do not transmit disease and their bites only cause mild itching. If you are bitten by an infected mosquito, you may experience any of the following symptoms within 2-14 days:
- Joint pain
- Body aches
- Flu-like symptoms
- Brain inflammation
Ways to Prevent Mosquito-borne Diseases
Your chances of being infected with a mosquito-borne disease are very small but there are ways you can reduce your risk even further. Here are some simple tips for preventing mosquito bites and diseases:
- Remove any standing water around your home. Common sources of standing water include old tires, empty planters, and open trash cans.
- Change the water in your birdbaths every 2-3 days.
- Check your window and door screens for holes and tears.
- Keep unscreened windows and doors shut.
- Wear clothing that covers your entire body, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wear insect repellant with DEET (25-30%), Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Do not put repellant with DEET or Picaridin on children under 2 months old. Children under 3 years old should not wear repellant with oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Use mosquito netting over your bed if you’re sleeping outdoors or in an open area.
What to Do if you Suspect a Mosquito-borne Disease
Visit your primary care doctor right away if you experience severe symptoms following a mosquito bite. Severe symptoms may include a sudden high fever, stiff neck, seizures, or a severe headache. Your doctor will determine what is causing your symptoms and provide care to reduce symptoms and prevent you from feeling worse.
At your appointment, your doctor may ask you about symptoms, how long the symptoms have been present, and any recent travel. Additionally, the doctor may draw blood to diagnose your illness.
If you believe you have a mosquito-borne disease, you can visit any of our convenient AppleCare Urgent Care Clinics that are open days, nights, and weekends. At AppleCare, there’s no need to schedule an appointment and our friendly staff will ensure you get the best treatment as quickly as possible.