Malaria is probably one of the most well-known diseases that is spread to humans by mosquitoes and is by far the most devastating, with an estimated 438,000 people dying of the of disease in 2015 alone – many of them are believed to be young children in Africa. Malaria is a treat to people who reside in and people who travel to areas of Africa and South Asia, where some countries are still considered to be in a malaria epidemic.
Some common symptoms of malaria include;
- Shaking chills
- Aching muscles
Symptoms of malaria will usually occur within 10-28 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito. Malaria can cause loss of red blood cells, which if not treated quickly, can lead to kidney failure, seizure, coma and death.
West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus comes from the West Nile region of Uganda but in recent years caused worry in the US, when in 2012 a West Nile Virus epidemic hit the country, killing 286 people.
The disease is commonly known to cause a fatal neurological disease in humans. One of the most worrying findings of the disease is that in 80% of cases, the person will show no signs of having it. This makes it incredibly difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat as there is no vaccine currently available.
Zika was pretty much unheard of until an epidemic swept through Brazil from 2015-2017. Symptoms include;
- Red eyes
- Joint pain
Although many people will experience little to no symptoms of the virus, this makes it even more dangerous as it is not only spread by getting bitten by an infected mosquito, it can also be sexually transmitted by a man who is infected with the virus. Contracting Zika will generally have very little effect on the person who has been infected, the worry is that many babies are now being born who are also infected with the virus, which has shown to cause them to have much smaller heads and brains than healthy babies. Scientists and health professionals are still yet to see what the effects of this will have on the children in later life.
Dengue has been a global problem since World War 2 and kills around 10,000 people a year. The virus is most common in tropical climates, especially in countries in Latin America and South East Asia. Symptoms generally show within 2 weeks of getting bitten by an infected mosquito, symptoms include;
- High fever
- Muscle and joint pain
- Skin rash
A vaccine for dengue has been approved in 3 countries but is still not commercially available.
Yellow fever infects around 200,000 per year, with around 30,000 people getting killed by the infection every year, 90% of these cases occur in African countries. Symptoms include;
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pains (especially in the back)
Symptoms will generally improve in 5 days, although in some cases, the fever can come back. This is when the person infected will enter the “toxic phase” of the disease, which is when liver damage will start to occur. A common sign of this that the person will develop jaundice (yellowing of the skin).
Luckily there is a very effective vaccine for the infection but yellow fever can be difficult to identify in the early stages.