Is there anything worse than the red, swollen, itchy welt left behind by mosquitoes? It turns out, there is. Those bites can be made worse because mosquitoes can transmit a variety of diseases. Some of them you’ve heard of before, but others aren’t as well-known. So, what diseases do mosquitoes carry? Keep reading to find out.
The Mosquito Bite Transmission Process
Before diving into the nitty-gritty, you should learn how mosquito-borne diseases are transmitted. Mosquitoes have long, skinny mouths. The tip is pointy and sharp, and the mosquito uses it to pierce your flesh. After breaking the skin, the mosquito sucks your blood. They’re literally the vampires of the insect world.
However, mosquitoes can only digest fresh, liquid blood. Their saliva produces an anticoagulant to keep its victim’s blood from clotting. Yes, it’s like something out of a science fiction movie! Unfortunately, the saliva can also contain bacteria, parasites, or viruses. And if an infected mosquito bites you, it may transmit the disease into your bloodstream.
Mosquito Diseases Everyone Should Know About
Although most mosquito bites produce an itchy histamine reaction, some also cause serious illness. Symptoms can appear a few days or even weeks after infection. Here are some mosquito diseases to keep on your radar:
West Nile Virus
Perhaps the most famous mosquito virus, West Nile causes a range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. If you’re lucky, you won’t experience any symptoms. However, some people end up with constant vomiting, diarrhea, joint pain, and fever. And in the worst cases, patients end up with meningitis or brain infections.
Zika virus is mild in most cases, but it can be devastating for pregnant women. The virus may cause serious birth defects, such as a small head or brain damage. Pregnant women should avoid mosquito bites in regions where Zika is present for this very reason.
Malaria is a widespread disease in many parts of the world. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not caused by a virus, but rather a parasite. Malaria can cause a high fever, headache, and vomiting. Luckily, there are anti-malaria drugs available.
The dengue fever causes a range of strange and frightening symptoms, like easy bruising, bleeding gums, and rashes. Some people may get a deadly hemorrhagic fever.
Chikungunya is common in Africa, India, and Asia. However, infected mosquitoes have migrated to other regions in recent years. Those infected often experience swollen joints, muscle pain, and rash. Although it’s not usually deadly, you may have noticeable symptoms for several months.
La Crosse Encephalitis
Luckily, La Crosse Encephalitis is very rare. Only about 65 cases occur each year in the United States. Although you’ll most likely only experience fever or nausea, the virus can damage the nervous system.
Mosquitoes in Africa or Latin America often transmit yellow fever. The disease causes jaundice, which can make your skin look yellow, hence its name. Be sure to get the vaccine before traveling to high-risk countries.
Rift Valley Fever
Mosquitoes can transmit rift valley fever, which can infect both humans and animals. It’s most common in Africa. Symptoms include weakness, dizziness, and vision impairment.
Jamestown Canyon Virus
You may never know if you catch the Jamestown Canyon virus. That’s because the symptoms are the same as the common flu. But it can also affect the brain and spinal column. Although this virus can be spread throughout the United States and primarily in the upper midwest, this mosquito-borne disease is rare.
Snowshoe Hare Virus
If a mosquito bite causes dizziness, headaches, vomiting, or a rash, you may have snowshoe hare virus. It can also lead to serious problems, including inflammation of the brain. This virus is most common in Canada, Alaska, and eastern Asia.
Whew! That’s a long list of diseases. There’s good news, however. Many of these illnesses only affect other countries. So, what diseases do mosquitoes carry in the United States? West Nile is the most common, but there were only 958 reported cases in 2019. Zika, chikungunya, and dengue are also present. And although rare, Jamestown Canyon virus is only found in the United States.
Avoid Getting Sick in the First Place
What causes mosquito-borne diseases? Mosquito bites. If you don’t want to get sick, you need to prevent bites before they happen. These insects like to hide in tall grass, weeds, and wooded areas. They also like stagnant water. When heading outdoors, try to cover as much skin as possible. Although mosquitoes can bite through fabrics, they’re more likely to move along to find another victim.
Mosquitoes don’t like certain smells. Spraying your clothing with DEET is one way to repel these pests. However, never use it around young children. Citronella, peppermint, and eucalyptus oils also keep mosquitoes away. Even crushed up garlic will stop the appetite of a hungry mosquito.
The best way to get rid of mosquitoes for good is with regular property treatments. If you see too many mosquitoes flying around your yard, Mosquito Joe can help. We offer barrier spray mosquito treatments that last for weeks. Visit us online or call 1-855-275-2563 to keep your family protected from mosquito diseases.