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Mosquitoes and Disease Transmission: A Global Perspective

Mosquitoes and Disease Transmission: A Global Perspective


          Despite centuries of control efforts, mosquito-borne diseases are flourishing worldwide. Mostly affecting children and adolescents a condition which is responsible for global morbidity and mortality. Malaria, a protozoal infection ranks as the most significant parasitic disease affecting humans globally. This is followed by Dengue which is transmitted by Aedes aegypti causing hemorrhagic fever. West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis virus has also expanded their ranges over the past decades. Filariasis on the other hand is on the retreat, constituting a global eradication campaign. To limit mosquito- borne diseases, control of mosquito populations, special advice on avoidance of mosquito bites, immunization and effective public health intervention are necessary. 

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          Mosquitoes and the diseases they spread have been responsible for killing more people than all the wars in history, they belong to the group of insects known as diptera (flies). Since ancient times, mosquitoes have been appreciated as the source of various ailments afflicting humans. Mosquito-borne diseases are flourishing worldwide with a disproportionate effect on children and adolescents, these conditions are responsible for substantial global morbidity and mortality (White, 2004; WHO, 2006; Milner, et al., 2008).

Comprising approximately 3500 species, Mosquitoes are found beyond the tropical and subtropical regions of the world with which they are classically associated (Reiter, 2001). In the course of the District’s operation about 10 species are commonly found in the country, eight of the species accounts for over 99%of complaints from the public. There are three commonly groups – Anopheles   (malaria, filariasis), Aedes (yellow fever, dengue) and culex (West Nile, Japanese encephalitis (White, 2004).

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Most female mosquitoes take blood meals from vertebrate to obtain the necessary nutrition to produce their eggs, (Robert, 2001; White, 2004), injecting saliva into the host animal. Those which regulary feed on humans, and in which pathogens can complete an obligatory life cycle phase and multiply in the mosquito’s salivary glands, can be important vectors of human diseases (White, 2004).

Mosquitoes breed in water, occasionally depositing eggs directly on water, but generally using a variety of moist surfaces, tree holes and containers (White, 2004). Human activities, such as production of a large amount of environmental debris that holds water pools (disposable bottles and cans and discarded tires) and storage of water on or around living premises, may markedly increase available mosquito-breeding sites.

Malaria in particular, continues to impact a major disease burden on infants and young children in endemic region (WHO, 2000; Jones, et al.,; Fegan, et al.,). There are 350 – 500 million cases of malaria annually, with at-least 1 million deaths affecting mostly infants and young children.

Dengue virus has expanded its range and is responsible for 50 – 100 million infections annually, with thousands of deaths, mostly from its severe dengue haemorrhagic fever.

West Nile virus emerged in the Americas, becoming endemic throughout the region (Campbell, et al., 2002).

Japanese encephalitis virus has expanded its range in the Indian subcontinent and Australasia affecting children less than 10 years (Oya, et al., 2007).

Due to coordinated control strategies, filariasis, a parasitic disease causing elephantiasis, has become less common and is the subject of a global eradication campaign directed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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          Mosquitoes and disease they cause have been responsible for killing more people than all the wars in history, thus the most dangerous creature on earth. As discussed here, mosquito- borne disease have a disproportionate impact on poor populations in the developing world. Most of those diseases with available vaccine (yellow fever) can be easily controlled if proper immunmization programmes are initiate. Also poverty as one of the predicaments, most countries are faced with, only the high income countries are faced with, only the high income countries are able to afford the vaccine thus may allow outbreaks to become more frequent in future years.

On the other hand, vaccine does not exist for other diseases (filarial infection), in such cases there is need to apply the control/ eradication program.

Conclusively, the devastating malaria burden and the uncontrolled expansion of dengue awaits the intervention with the power to bring them under sustainable control;  safe vaccines with long-lasting effect, affordable to the poorest countries, and available to the infants, children and pregnant women who need them most urgently.

Table below show global status of major vector-borne diseases (Mosquito)

Mosquitoes and Disease Transmission: A Global Perspective



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