The Mosquito: Nature’s Assassin
Ask anyone what the world’s deadliest animal is, and you’re bound to get replies ranging from the merely uninformed to the downright ludicrous. The rogue’s gallery typically consists of the usual suspects such as various types of snakes and spiders, as well as sharks and jellyfish, with many suggesting (and not wrongly so) that, indeed, Mankind is the deadliest animal to roam this green planet of ours. After all, are we not the ones who wage wars and plant bombs?
But the abovementioned transgressors do not form the subject of this article. No, the notorious star of our show is a much more insidious specimen altogether. One that is responsible for more deaths than any other animal, an estimated 1 million people every year.
I am talking, of course, about the mosquito and, if the abovementioned figure seems ludicrous to you, consider that mosquitos spread a host of deadly diseases including malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever.
Mosquitoes came into the spotlight again recently with the outbreak of the dreaded Zika virus – a pathogen that has been linked to microcephaly in babies – in Brazil, causing global panic.
A contributing factor with regards to the high mortality rate associated with mosquito-borne diseases, is the fact that outbreaks often occur in developing regions with poor sanitation and limited access to healthcare. For example, sub-Saharan Africa currently has the highest malaria fatality rate (some 90%) with countries like Mozambique, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast being known for the presence of malaria mosquitos. The humid, wet conditions in these countries – as well as the prevalence of bodies of stagnant water – make for the perfect breeding conditions for malaria mosquitos. The symptoms of malaria are flu-like in nature and include headache, fever and chills. Organizations like Malaria No More are working toward bringing about the end of death caused by malaria.
Even in malaria-free areas, mosquitos are considered pests, their bites (or, more accurately, the antigens in their saliva) resulting in red, swollen, maddeningly itchy and often painful bumps on one’s skin. Many a sleepless night during the summer months can be attributed to this irritating nocturnal visitor.
There are many different ways – with varying degrees of efficacy – of keeping mosquitos at bay. From creams and aerosols to citronella-scented candles and electronic plug-in devices, many companies have made it their mission to help people ward off these pesky parasites. However, in regions affected by malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, it is imperative that the proper prophylactics are taken prior to visiting the areas so affected.
Copyright © 2016 A1FQGIC2DJV65X CC-BY-SA-4.0