Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mosquitoes & The Diseases They Spread

World wide, there are 2500 different species of mosquitoes. In the USA alone there are 150 species. Mosquitoes must have stagnant water to breed. Only the adult female mosquitoes bite men and other animals, like cattle, horses, goats, deer, rabbits, snakes, lizards, frogs and all types of birds. The males feed on plant juices. These buzzing little mosquitoes are disease transmitters, and can cause your cat and dogs to contact heartworms.

WHO (World Health Organizations) estimates there are 50 million cases of dengue and malaria around the world every year and of this, at least 125000 people die yearly. These diseases become more prevalent as the ambient temperature rises. Dengue and malaria are no longer seasonal. Their presence is now continuous. So be ware of disease traps like discarded tyres, or tyres used to weigh down roofs in the shanty areas. Industrial equipment which are left in the yard, without proper covers or shades can collect rain water for mosquitoes to breed.

At cooler climates, mosquitoes mate during autumn. But in the tropics, they mate whenever they become adults. After mating, the males die but the females hide in leaf piles, loose barks, or cracks in buildings. So clean up your bushy areas, but do not destroy the bushes as these bushes attract the small birds which feed on the mosquitoes.

Another smart thing to do is to allow bats and birds to live around your area, possibly putting up bird and bat houses for them to roost. Bats are living bug zappers. One bat can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes per hour.

Another thing you can do is to request your local health authorities to carry out fogging at your area regularly if it is justified and if you are living in a country which cares. Disease-carrying mosquitoes have spread to cooler climates and are now a global problem.

Other areas to clean up are the possible sources of standing water such as discarded bottles, containers, flower pots etc. If you have a large pond, put fresh water fishes like mosquito-fish or bleeding heart tetra. These fishes feed on mosquito larvae. Most other tropical fresh water fishes also feed on larvae. You can experiment on this yourself.

Mosquitoes remain within a mile or two of their source. But some are found to have traveled 75 miles from their breeding source. Most males live for about a week but he females live up to a month.

Among the Aedes mosquitoes, the species spreading chikunguna are the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Andes albopictus mosquitoes attack during the day. The diseases are transmitted when the andes bites an infested person or animal and then bites someone else. They prefer to bite humans and can fly many miles from their breeding sources.

Chikungunya affected over one million people worldwide since 2005. It is now endemic in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is also found in Mediteranean Europe, Germany and Italy.

In Singapore alone this year (2008) thirteen people contacted this disease locally. Chikungunya and dengue have the same symptoms, and their presence can only be identified by a laboratory test of the patient’s blood. This disease lasts between three and ten days and at he moment, there is no cure. The U.S. Military has developed a vaccine against the virus of chikunguna but it is still on trial basis.

Anopheles mosquitoes are the ones which transmit malaria to man. Larvae of anopheles mosquitoes can live in fresh or salt-water, e.g. mangrove swamps.

Culex mosquitoes attack at dusk and after dark. They prefer domestic and wild birds. They can transmit sleeping sickness to man and horses. The females which emerge in late summer search sheltered areas to hibernate until spring.

Culiseta mosquitoes attack in the evening or in shade during the day. They mainly feed on birds and mammals, and occasionally humans.

Tackling mosquito-borne diseases require the whole world to work together. Do mosquitoes need permit to enter your country?


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