What’s the Buzz on Mosquito Borne Illnesses?
Mosquitoes are pesky, blood hungry creatures but their incessant buzzing can be more than just an annoying nuisance. Mosquitos can carry and transmit numerous different viruses and infect both humans and animals with just one bite. Some disease are relatively harmless but others can have life threatening complications. LiveMD has all of the information you need about some of the most common mosquito borne illnesses and how to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.
Malaria is a very serious, life threatening disease and it is passed to humans from the bites of infected female mosquitoes. These mosquitoes carry a parasite that can cause severe symptoms, sometimes leading to death. A person will usually begin to show symptoms 10-15 days after being bitten . Headache, vomiting, fever and chills are the first signs of this illness and if not treated early on, within the first 24 hours, serious and deadly complications could occur. Although cases of malaria are reported throughout the world, it is most common in Africa.
This is an illness that primarily affects tropical areas across the globe. It is spread by mosquitos and can cause debilitating joint and muscle pain. Symptoms will begin to appear 4-6 days after being infected and can last for up to 10 days. An infected person may experience headache, fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting or skin rashes. There is no cure for Dengue Fever and it will usually resolve on its own. In rare cases, serious complications can occur.
West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus is most commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and Western Asia. Close to 80% of the people that become infected with this virus will not show any symptoms of illness at all. Those that do experience signs may develop flu-like symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, tiredness, weakness and swollen glands. These will usually only last a few days however a person who has been infected may feel tired or weaker than usual for upto a few months after the initial illness.
Africa, the Americas and Asia are the areas that are currently most affected by the Zika Virus. This virus exhibits symptoms much like other mosquito borne illnesses and someone that has been infected may have a fever, chills, headache or joint pain. What is unique and unsettling about this virus is the fact that scientists are now finding evidence that it may be able to be transmitted from one infected person to another through sexual contact, causing this disease to spread much more quickly. There are also studies showing that pregnant mothers who are infected may be at a higher risk of having children with severe birth defects. Visit our Zika Virus post for more detailed information on this illness.
The Chikungunya virus is most known for its quick onset of symptoms, such as fever and severe joint pain. The countries most commonly affected by this virus are Africa, Asia and India. Most people will fully recover from this disease however joint and muscle pain can last for weeks or even months after being infected.
This virus got its name due to the jaundice that it causes in some people. It is a very serious disease that causes death in close to 50% of those that are seriously infected. Once bitten, it may take close to a week to begin to see symptoms. Fever, muscle pain with severe backache, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite is usually present. These symptoms will last a few days and then usually disappear. After this, some people will experience a second phase of the disease where they can experience yellowing of the skin and eyes, severe abdominal pain, bleeding from the eyes, nose and mouth and blood in the vomit and stool. If not treated quickly, approximately half of the people that experience phase 2 will die within 10-14 days.
How to protect yourself from mosquito borne illnesses
The best way to avoid getting sick from mosquito bites is to avoid getting bitten altogether. If possible, avoid entering high risk areas and if you must, make sure that you are well prepared. Apply repellant every time you go outside and reapply it often. Make sure that you wear long sleeved shirts and long pants and look into purchasing clothing that has already been treated with pesticides. Also, avoid letting mosquitoes into the house by keeping windows and doors shut and using air conditioning if possible. The use of mosquito nets around beds at night can help and using pesticide treated nets should increase your protection.
Vaccinations are also important. Some of the common mosquito borne diseases mentioned above can be prevented by getting vaccinated. Malaria and yellow fever both have vaccines available to protect you and your loved ones from contracting the disease and getting sick.
If you have questions about any of these viruses, suspect that you may be sick or would like information on getting vaccinated, visit www.mylivemd.com today to speak with one of our doctors by phone, video, or text.
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