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Health and Fitness News

World’s Deadliest Animal

Six deadly diseases transmitted by the mosquito.

When people talk about the world’s most dangerous creatures, sharks, crocodiles, and snakes often come to mind. Few think of something as tiny as a mosquito. But you should! Because while sharks kill an average of six people a year, mosquitos are responsible for 750,000 human deaths each year. In fact, the mosquito is more deadly than all other dangerous creatures combined! All it takes is one little mosquito bite and you could end up with a deadly disease.

Spanish for “little fly,” there are over 3,000 different species of mosquitoes, and they’re found on every continent except Antarctica. Female mosquitoes require blood to produce eggs for reproduction. When it bites a human or animal, the mosquito sucks blood while secreting saliva. If you’re allergic to their saliva, you may develop a red, swollen, itchy bump on your skin. But if the mosquito is carrying a virus, you may become sick.

Read on to learn more about six dangerous and deadly diseases transmitted by these tiny pests.

Malaria

Malaria is a virus that’s been around for thousands of years. The Anopheles mosquitoes that carry malaria live in mostly tropical and subtropical parts of the world, where 40 percent of the world’s population is found. Insecticides have eradicated the mosquitos that carry malaria in temperate climates. While only found in certain areas, malaria infects millions of people each year, and thousands die from the disease. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, and headache. And though antimalarial drugs are now available, they're not easily accessible to everyone at risk.

Chikungunya

The Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes spread the chikungunya virus. Those who live in North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe are at risk. The word chikungunya comes from an African word that means “that which bends up,” referring to the horrible joint pain caused by the virus. Other symptoms include fever, nausea, headache, fatigue, and rash, all which can last for weeks. No vaccine is available.

Zika

Originating in macaque monkeys in Africa and spreading to the western hemisphere via Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, the Zika virus doesn’t only spread through mosquito bite. It can also be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person, and pregnant women can transmit the virus to their unborn child. Symptoms of Zika are usually quite mild but may last several months and include fever, joint pain, conjunctivitis, and rash. Zika may be linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, an immune disorder that damages nerve cells.

Dengue

Another virus spread by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes is dengue. While it’s rarely deadly, cases of dengue are increasing. Tropical and subtropical regions of the world see cases of dengue. The virus can cause severe symptoms similar to the flu including fever, joint pain, muscle aches, nausea, and headache.

Yellow Fever

Found in tropical areas of Central America and Africa, yellow fever is another potentially deadly virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. If you travel to these areas of the world, you are required to get a vaccine to protect you from yellow fever. Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, back pain, vomiting, headache, and loss of appetite.

West Nile Virus

The Culex mosquito spreads West Nile virus in areas of North America, Africa, Europe, Western Asia, and the Middle East. A deadly virus, West Nile has several strains that may infect an individual. Some cases produce symptoms similar to the flu, causing fever, headache, rash, and fatigue. Other strains affect the nervous system and lead to stiff neck, muscle weakness, confusion, convulsions, and coma. More than half of those infected have symptoms lasting more than a month.