Mosquitoes are widely known as annoying, their bites causing bites that itch long after the bug is gone. However, in some cases the lasting effects can be even more problematic and dangerous. Below, we cover some of the most common diseases that are spread by mosquitoes.
West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus, while not common, is not rare in the United States. It has been found in all lower 48 states. This disease is spread when a mosquito bites an infected bird, then follows that by biting a human. The incubation period after the bite ranges from 2 to 14 days, but most people don’t actually show symptoms. Those that do, roughly 1 in 5, begin seeing symptoms like headaches, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, and rashes.
While it is more rare, some of those who exhibit symptoms will see a more serious neurological progression, such as the development of meningitis or encephalitis.
Like the rest of these, Zika is spread by mosquito bites, but this one can also be spread as a sexually transmitted disease. Many people who have Zika never exhibit any symptoms, but that does not mean they will not see any effects. It was found after a recent explosion of Zika that women who contracted Zika while pregnant or became pregnant in the few months after being infected with Zika gave birth to babies with microcephaly, a birth defect that caused them to have small heads and developmental delays.
Chikungunya virus generally presents as a rash and joint pains within two to twelve days after initial exposure, which is caused by mosquito bites. Most people only have symptoms for about a week, but others may have joint pains and swelling for months. On very rare occasions, usually in the very old or very young, there is also a risk of death in severe cases.
Dengue virus is most often found in tropical and sub-tropical areas, meaning it is mostly seen in warm areas like Florida and Arizona. There is a lot of crossover in infections with Zika and Chikungunya, making it sometimes difficult to diagnose. The symptoms for this virus start out similar to the others with joint pains and fever, but take it a step further with nausea, vomiting, bleeding and concentrated areas of pain. One of the biggest problems with Dengue is that once you’ve had it once, it makes it easier to catch it again.
Yellow fever is probably the most rare of all of the mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, and is much more often seen in the Caribbean and Africa. It is a viral fever and has a very short duration, with symptoms including fever, chills, headache, and muscle pains. In most cases, these symptoms pass within five days, but it can be fatal. For people traveling to tropical areas, a yellow fever vaccination is often suggested.
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