Mosquito…Harbinger of Death

admin.SkeeterSkeeter Skat News & Info

I know… the title sounds over dramatic doesn’t it? Harbinger of death… is that going a bit too far? Well, actually no! Mosquitoes kill more people than any other predator on earth! That means grizzly bears, polar bears, wolverines, mountain lions, Siberian tigers, leopards, lions, snakes and even sharks!!!.. Yep, more than all the mega predators worldwide combined! According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), mosquito bites kill 725,000 people a year .Yikes!
In most cases, it’s not the bite of the mosquito that gets you, it’s all the nasty things that mosquitos give you via their bite. They carry diseases like Zika virus and West Nile virus (to name a few), then deliver whatever disease they extracted from sucking the infected persons or animals blood and injecting it directly into your veins! Scary when you think about it!


Anopheles mosquito (Malaria carrier), feeding on a human arm.

Malaria is a different story… which we will save for last.
Not every single mosquito is carrying a disease and not all mosquito borne illnesses can kill you, your risk can be higher or lower depending on where you live. It’s good to know where you stand and what to keep an eye out for as far as symptoms go. The best thing you can do is just protect yourself from getting bit, with a good mosquito repellent. The worst thing you can do is trade one risk for another! What do I mean by that? Well, putting DEET based repellents on your skin and into your pores may keep you from getting a mosquito bite, but has other adverse long term effects on your health. So maybe you don’t get bit, but now you have flooded your pores with toxic DEET that is only 60% effective and now you risk a stroke or many other health issues by using DEET.
Thankfully there is a highly effective all natural mosquito repellent we can recommend … and we will come back to that… but first, let’s talk about what viruses mosquitoes can carry depending on where you live or travel to and what symptoms to look out for if you are bit.

I have listed below some of the diseases that are spread to people by mosquitoes include zika virus, west nile virus, dengue, and malaria. These are the big hitters. There are actually a few more that I will list at the end of the article for your reference.

Zika Virus

The Basics of Zika

Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). These mosquitoes bite during the day and night.
Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects.
There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain. Besides birth defects, Zika is linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, which affects the nervous system. Unique to the mosquito borne illnesses, you get Zika through sex, even if the person who has the virus has no symptoms.

Treatment

There is no medicine or cure for Zika!

Zika is linked to birth defects

If you have the Zika virus during pregnancy it can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly. What happens is the brain of the fetus does not fully develop. The baby’s head can also under-develop and be too small as a result of the virus. It’s a very bad situation, with no cure at this time.

Where can you get Zika?

Before 2014, there were just a few travel related cases of Zika in the US- mainly Florida & Texas. In the years 2015 & 16, there were large outbreaks in the US, mainly from travel related cases. The Good news is Zika cases declined in 2017 and now there has not been a reported case of Zika in the US since.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites if you are traveling to high-risk areas including the Pacific Islands, countries in Central, South and North America, and islands near West Africa.

West Nile Virus

The Basics of West Nile

Most people won’t develop any symptoms.
Symptoms include headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting.
Severe cases can lead to encephalitis or meningitis.
Illness can occur at any age but people over 60 are more at risk.

Symptoms

none to Severe

With West Nile, most people won’t develop any symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever accompanied by headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Though most will recover completely, fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or even months.
About 1 in 150 people who get the West Nile virus will develop a severe illness. This illness can affect the central nervous system in the form of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord). The symptoms associated with severe illness also include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis and can be fatal. Yikes!!!

Treatment

No vaccine or specific medicines are available for West Nile virus infection at this time. Unfortunately Antibiotics do not treat virus.
Best advice for relief is rest, fluids, and over-the-counter pain medications.
In severe cases, people often need to be hospitalized. intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care can help, but there is no cure.
Where can you get West Nile Virus?
Cases of West Nile virus (WNV) have been reported across the continental United States. Yep, right here in the good ole US of A. WNV activity typically occurs during the summer months and into the fall depending on the mosquito season in each state. The annual number of reported WNV disease cases can fluctuate widely, as a result of periodic epidemics. People of all ages in areas where WNV activity has been identified are at risk!

Where can you get West Nile Virus?

Cases of West Nile virus (WNV) have been reported across the continental United States. Yep, right here in the good ole US of A. WNV activity typically occurs during the summer months and into the fall depending on the mosquito season in each state. The annual number of reported WNV disease cases can fluctuate widely, as a result of periodic epidemics. People of all ages in areas where WNV activity has been identified are at risk!

Dengue

Basics

1 in 4: About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick.
For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
Severe dengue can be life-threatening within a few hours and often requires care at a hospital.

Symptoms

Mild symptoms of dengue can be confused with other illnesses that cause fever, aches & pains, or a rash. More severe symptoms can include body aches and pains, eye pain (behind the eyes), muscle, joint, or bone pain.
Symptoms of dengue typically last 2–7 days. Most people will recover after about a week.

Treatment

There is no specific medicine to treat dengue. You should rest as much as possible. You can take acetaminophen to relieve fever and pain. ***Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen!
Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. You can also drink drinks with added electrolytes.
Mild symptoms can be treated at home. Symptoms of dengue can become severe within a few hours. Severe dengue is a medical emergency. Go to a hospital if you have severe dengue!

Severe dengue

About 1 in 20 people who get sick with dengue will develop severe dengue.
Severe dengue can result in shock, internal bleeding, and even death.
If you have had dengue in the past, you are more likely to develop severe dengue.
Infants and pregnant women are at higher risk for developing severe dengue.
Watch for signs and symptoms of severe dengue. Warning signs usually begin in the 24–48 hours after your fever has gone away.
Symptoms for severe dengue include: Belly pain or tenderness. Vomiting (at least 3 times in 24 hours) or vomiting blood. Bleeding from the nose or gums. Feeling tired, restless, or irritable. Immediately go to a local clinic or emergency room if you or a family member has any of the severe symptoms.

Where

Dengue outbreaks are occurring in many countries across the world in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Dengue outbreaks occasionally occur in the United States. The most outbreaks occurred in Hawaii 2015, Florida 2013 & 2020, and Texas in 2013.

Malaria- “Winged death”

We’ve all seen the movies, the African explorer lying in the tent, sweating, uncontrollably shaking, wondering if they will make it through the night… malaria. In Hollywood’s version, the infected person sweats it out and miraculously recovers the next day, but unfortunately, that’s not the happy ending many people who get malaria experience.

The Basics

Malaria occurs mostly in undeveloped tropical and subtropical areas of the world. In many of the countries affected by malaria, it is a leading cause of illness and death. In areas with high transmission, the most vulnerable groups are young children and pregnant women. The disease is actually carried by the mosquito (Anopheles gambiae complex). The Anopheles mosquito carries a parasite called Plasmodium falciparum. That parasite is what is most likely to cause severe malaria, which can lead to death.

What is Malaria

Malaria is different from other mosquito borne viruses. Malaria is a mosquito borne disease caused by a parasite. Other mosquito borne illnesses come from mosquitos that pick up diseases when they bite and transfer the germs from one host to another. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Left untreated, they may develop severe complications and die.
In 2020 an estimated 241 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide and 627,000 people died, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is a serious, oftentimes fatal disease. Following an infected bite by the Anopheles mosquito, there is first an incubation period which varies from 7 to 30 days. It is in that time period that symptoms first appear.

Symptoms

Malaria disease can be categorized as uncomplicated or severe (complicated). In general, malaria is a curable disease if diagnosed and treated promptly and correctly.

The classical “Uncomplicated” malaria attack lasts 6–10 hours. “Hollywood’s favorite version”.
A cold stage (sensation of cold, shivering)
A hot stage (fever, headaches, vomiting; seizures in young children); and
Finally a sweating stage (sweats, return to normal temperature, tiredness).

Severe or “Complicated” malaria symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweats
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Body aches
  • Weakness
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Mild jaundice
  • Enlargement of the liver
  • Increased respiratory rate

Severe malaria occurs when infections are complicated by serious organ failures or abnormalities in the patient’s blood or metabolism. The manifestations of severe malaria can include the following:
Cerebral malaria, with abnormal behavior, impairment of consciousness, seizures, coma, or other neurologic abnormalities, Severe anemia due to hemolysis,(destruction of the red blood cells), Hemoglobinuria (hemoglobin in the urine) due to hemolysis, Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), an inflammatory reaction in the lungs that inhibits oxygen exchange, which may occur even after the parasite counts have decreased in response to treatment, Abnormalities in blood coagulation, Low blood pressure caused by cardiovascular collapse,  Acute kidney injury, Hyperparasitemia, where more than 5% of the red blood cells are infected by malaria parasites, Metabolic acidosis (excessive acidity in the blood and tissue fluids), often in association with hypoglycemia. How’s that for a run on sentence?
It’s A long list of severe symptoms. Severe malaria is a medical emergency and should be treated urgently and aggressively.

Treatment

The patient should be sent to a hospital where Artesunate is stocked or can be procured more quickly. The patient should be treated with oral antimalarials while waiting for an IV artesunate to arrive.

Where

Malaria is one of the most severe public health problems worldwide. It is a leading cause of death and disease in many developing countries. Africa, Asia and South America are areas where you should be aware and protect yourself against mosquito bites. See map below.

***About 2,000 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the United States each year. The vast majority of cases in the United States are in travelers and immigrants returning from countries where malaria transmission occurs. It’s often the “up to 30 day incubation period” that delays the onset of symptoms until arriving back in the US.

According to the 2021 World Malaria Report:
Nearly half the world’s population lives in areas at risk of malaria transmission in 87 countries and territories.
In 2020, malaria caused an estimated 241 million clinical episodes, and 627,000 deaths. An estimated 95% of deaths in 2020 were in the WHO African Region.
Mosquito borne illness kills an estimated 725,000 people a year. Malaria alone accounts for 600,000 of that number.
Are we done yet??? No way. Here are a few more mosquito borne illnesses to be aware of. The list goes on here with various symptoms, some with no cure. The point of all this is… don’t get bit!

You can look these up… one of my brothers got Encephalitis…in a hot Missouri summer when he was in his early 30’s… the doc’s couldn’t confirm for sure, but they suspected he got this from a mosquito bite!!! He was in the hospital for almost a month…and luckily fully recovered. His age definitely helped him!

Chikungunya virus
Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus
CDC Eastern Equine Encephalitis
Japanese Encephalitis Virus
CDC Japanese Encephalitis Virus
WHO Japanese Encephalitis Virus external icon

Prevention – Skeeter Skat!

The best way to avoid any of the above mentioned mosquito borne illnesses is- just don’t get bit! The best way to do that is to use a safe and effective, preferably non-chemical mosquito repellent. Remember you don’t want to trade one bad thing for another. There are starting to be a few more choices out there for all natural repellents. Some work Ok, some don’t do much for you. Of course, we recommend the outstanding all natural repellent called Skeeter Skat. Skeeter Skat was developed and is produced in Montana, USA. Skeeter Skat is completely safe to apply to your children, pets, and horses. It contains no DEET or other harmful chemicals and is extremely effective at repelling aggressive mosquitoes. In fact, In our experience Skeeter Skat outperforms, OFF, and all other Deet products as well as Skin So Soft and other natural mosquito repellents- hands down. Skeeter Skat is a newcomer to the market, but well worth the try!!! Please shake well, spray your face, ears, arms and all exposed areas of skin. Let it dry and watch the mosquitos approach you, but not land! To give it a shot or read more about it go to: Skeeter Skat

You’ll be glad you did!

~River DeLiso~
Editor: Clay “Flash” Corbisier
***thanks to the CDC and WHO websites for much of the demographic and medical info on mosquitos.