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Deadly Mosquitoes - It's Not Just Malaria You Need To Worry About!

Updated on April 2, 2013
Asian Tiger Mosquito
Asian Tiger Mosquito | Source

Mosquitoes - a very old species

The origin of mosquitoes goes back a long time. The oldest species known to date was found in a piece of amber from around 75 million years ago. They have subsequently developed into over 350,000 different species and continue to create havoc.

Mosquitoes belong to a family of midge-like flies of the group Culicidae. There are a few species that are harmless and probably even beneficial, but the majority are not only blood-sucking pests, they're dangerous. In fact a number of authorities have labelled the mosquito as the deadliest creature on Earth.

Most people have of course heard of the disease malaria that kills thousands of people all over the world. However, malaria is only one of the many diseases carried by this insect.

The life of the mosquito

The name mosquito comes from the Spanish or Portuguese - mosca ito - meaning 'little fly'. Similar to other species of flies they have a life-cycle that goes through four separate stages:

  • Egg
  • Larvae
  • Pupa
  • Adult

The female lays her eggs in stagnant water, although some species prefer either the water's edge or even aquatic plants. In fact most mosquitoes will adapt to whatever environment they are in. Therefore, some mosquito species will lay their eggs in lakes while others will use temporary water holders such as old tyres.

Some of the most dangerous mosquitoes are those that breed in plants that have natural water reservoirs known as phytotelmata. This is an area where rainwater has accumulated for example in the centre of plants or hole in a tree trunk. These species of mosquito can adapt any artificial reservoir into a breeding pond - pot plants, saucers it doesn't matter to some mosquitoes. This is particularly hazardous for humans because it brings the insect into close proximity to our homes. A mosquito species such as Aedes will use opportunistic areas such as those mentioned previously, but they also have the ability to pick up pathogens from humans and pass them on to other people.

As far as malaria goes there are four main forms caused by a parasite called Plasmodium:

  • Plasmodium falciparum - this is the species of plasmodium that can causes malaria and can be fatal.
  • Plasmodium vivax - causes a less serious form of malaria unlikely to prove fatal.
  • Plasmodium ovale - as with vivax this is not usually a fatal form.
  • Plasmodium malariae - as with vivax and ovale, this strain is more benign and unlikely to cause a fatality.

So let's take a closer look at the diseases mosquitoes carry and more importantly what they pass onto people.

Mosquito larva living in water.
Mosquito larva living in water. | Source

Mosquito Facts!

Did you know?
That only the female mosquito drinks the blood of humans and other animals? This is not because she loves to drink blood, she simply needs the protein from blood to help her eggs develop. When she is not reproducing, the female prefers drinking nectar from flowers.

Mosquito Facts

Did you know?
It's the carbon dioxide that we breath out that attracts mosquitos to us. The insect can detect the gas from as far away as a staggering 75 feet!

Mosquitoes and the diseases they carry

In addition to people who live in mosquito areas, people are also travelling and taking vacations in wilder areas. This means that more people come into contact with the mosquito and inevitably the diseases they carry.

Malaria is the best known of the diseases but there are others that people need to be aware of when travelling through or staying in mosquito infested areas. It's also important that you receive full vaccinations recommended by your doctor. Even if you are young and very fit, this is no barrier to the mosquito.

Firstly I'll give a brief overview of malaria and then go onto the other diseases the insect carries.


Even today malaria is one of the biggest killers on the planet. If the fatal form of the disease is not treated quickly people can succumb to it rapidly.

The problem with malaria is that although symptoms can appear within a few days of being bitten, it's not uncommon for people to develop signs for weeks, months or even a year after the event.

The main symptoms to look for are listed in the UK NHS Choices as:

  • Pain in the muscles
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feverish with chills and sweating - often described as severe flu-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Very tired
  • Vomiting
  • High temperature - usually in the range of 38oC/100.4F.

Even if you have been home from your trip for several months and symptoms similar to the above develop, still go and see a doctor and explain that you have been in mosquito territory within the last year or so.

When treatment is commenced quickly, the recovery rate is faster and not usually lethal. Only when malaria goes untreated - as it does in many poor countries - will it kill. According to Dr Charlie Easmon of NetDoctor, about 1,500 people return to the UK from malaria regions and at least 12 of these people will die due to the disease.

Anti-malaria drugs are used to both prevent and treat malaria. However, the type of medicine used and how long it's used for will depend on:

  • The type of malaria and also where you caught the disease.
  • How severe your symptoms are.
  • If you are pregnant then the dosage and length of treatment will vary.
  • If you took anti-malarial medicine before getting a mosquito bite, then this wills also affect how much medicine you would be given and how long treatment would last.

Lets now look at other diseases the mosquito can transmit.

Diagram demonstrating the complex malaria cycle from the mosquito to humans and back to mosquitos.
Diagram demonstrating the complex malaria cycle from the mosquito to humans and back to mosquitos. | Source
Simple precautions such as a mosquito net helps to reduce the risk of being bitten.
Simple precautions such as a mosquito net helps to reduce the risk of being bitten. | Source

Mosquito Facts

Did you know?
Some famous people who died of malaria:
1. Alexander the Great
2. Christopher Columbas
3. Poet - Lord Byron
4. Oliver Cromwell - although there is speculation that he was murdered by his doctor.
5. When Attila the Hun's army (452 AD) had just about sacked Rome, these mighty warriors were stopped in their tracks by the tiny parasite that causes malaria.
6. The famous Scottish explorer David Livingstone died from malaria and he also had dysentery.

Other diseases mosquitoes carry

Now that we've looked at malaria lets see what other diseases this little insect might have in store for you.

Yellow Fever

This disease - which is a virus - is known by a few names and is transmitted by the species of mosquito Aedes aegypti as well as some others. With a few people the disease goes into a toxic phase that causes jaundice - a yellowish colour - so giving rise to the name of 'Yellow Fever'.This phase can cause liver damage and lead to death.

Yellow fever is a haemorrhagic disease which means that damage can occur to the vascular system resulting in bleeding. However, the bleeding itself rarely causes death. The main symptoms are fever and chills, muscle pain, nausea, anorexia, headaches.

This is still a very serious and potentially lethal disease. It can be found in tropical areas such as South America and Africa. If travelling to the areas where yellow fever is endemic it's highly recommended that you get vaccinated against the virus as well as taking the usual precautions against mosquito bites.

Dengue Fever

This disease is also a virus spread by the mosquito. The majority of people usually have a mild strain of the illness but others can develop a more serious form. The virus is endemic in many tropical regions throughout the world especially India, Southeast Asia, Africa, South & Central America and the Caribbean.

The symptoms are very similar to flu with aching joints and muscles. In addition there could also be vomiting, diarrhoea, pain behind the ears and headache. There is also a rash that may develop. This is red in colour and starts at the chest before spreading to other areas of the body. First signs of the illness usually start about 5 to 8 days after being bitten.

Although most people recover there are others who go onto develop a more serious form - haemorrhagic dengue fever - that results in bleeding from the mouth and gums, blood in the faeces and it's not uncommon to vomit blood. Some people also develop dengue shock syndrome, where there is severe pain in the abdomen, vomiting, irritability and a severe lowering of body temperature.

There is no cure for dengue fever and no current vaccination, but most people are able to fight it off quite easily. It's only if the disease goes into a more serious stage that it can become lethal. To protect yourself, see the advice on avoiding mosquito bites at the end of this hub.


This is an inflammation of the brain. There are certain viruses carried by mosquitoes that can lead to this condition such as:

  • La Crosse encephalitis
  • West Nile encephalitis
  • Eastern equine encephalitis
  • Western equine encephalitis
  • Venezuelan equine encephalitis
  • St. Louis encephalitis
  • Japanese encephalitis

These conditions are rare but can be fatal under certain circumstances - such as people over the age of 50 who have problems with their immune systems. At present there are no vaccines against these forms of encephalitis so preventative measures should be taken if the areas you are travelling to or live in have mosquitoes who carry any of these viruses.

For most people the virus only causes mild symptoms such as - vomiting, chills, fever, aches, fatigue and headache. However, some people can go onto develop a more serious form leading to encephalitis with symptoms such as - seizures, loss of vision, disorientated, paralysis and coma.

Lastly, we'll have a quick look at measures to prevent mosquitoes from biting.

Mosquito drinking blood - only the female msoquito does this.
Mosquito drinking blood - only the female msoquito does this. | Source

Heve you ever been bitten by a mosquito?

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Use netting whenever possible in mosquito infested areas.
Use netting whenever possible in mosquito infested areas. | Source

How to prevent mosquito bites

Below are some of the best known methods to try to prevent a mosquito bite. This is particularly important if you are in areas where the diseases that are present have no vaccination as a prevention.

  • Wear light coloured clothing - this is because the insects are thought to be attracted by darker colours.
  • Clothing should cover as much of your body as possible and also wear a hat. Mosquitoes can get through some fabrics, but clothing will still significantly reduce the risk of being bitten.
  • Use insect repellents - but take care as there are certain factors that can reduce the repellents ability to work. For example wearing too much sun screen, swimming, sweat, rain and high temperatures. When going to heavily infested areas where endemic diseases are present, it's best to use a repellent that has been scientifically tested. However, in order for them to work properly they have to be used exactly as stated in the instructions.
  • There are many 'home-grown' or 'natural' repellents being sold to prevent mosquito bites. While some may be beneficial, there is as yet no scientific proof that they work. If you do have a method that you know has worked then by all means stick with it. For example some of the natural oils such as - cedar, rosemary, castor, lemon grass, clove and others, do help to repel mosquitoes but they have to be applied very regularly and in stronger doses than those manufactured by chemists.
  • Some people - perhaps due to body chemistry, perfumes etc., seem to attract mosquitoes more than others. If you feel that you do attract them then be extra vigilant about protection. There are also many myths out there such as eating a banana attracts mosquitoes, or that vitamin B12, garlic and so on keeps them away - they are all false.
  • Mosquitoes tend to be most active around dusk and dawn. Try to do any outdoor activities away from these times and/or take extra precautions.
  • Dual purpose creams and lotions that have both sunscreen and insect repellent in them should be avoided. The problem is that sun screen usually needs to be applied in quite large amounts, but most insect repellents should only be applied sparingly. Research has shown that using two separate preparations is usually best.
  • Try to avoid areas where mosquitoes breed such as swampy areas, standing water etc.
  • Always use a mosquito net at night when sleeping. Ensure that all insect screens on doors and windows are in good order.
  • Some plug-in devices containing insecticide have shown to be quite affective against mosquitoes.
  • Research carried out in the USA showed that although bug-zappers do kill some mosquitoes they are not that effective in controlling their numbers. In addition, it was found that other insects who help to keep mosquito numbers under control were more likely to be killed by these devices.

I hope that this hub will be of some use to you if you live in or are travelling to mosquito zones. If you use common sense and take precautions then there is no need for the deadly mosquito to spoil having a good time.


Submit a Comment
  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Nellieanna, what a wonderful comment and yes I agree about common sense.

    I think as well - along with the sneaky advertising - there is also a huge trend, especially with the internet, of information overload. I say that because when I first started my nurse training, I was convinced I had every medical condition in the book! A little knowledge is good, too much can be a bad thing, especially with today's, (what I see) as health paranoia.

    Some companies - in a very nice but sneaky way, as with the prescription drugs you mentioned - push towards creating more paranoia in order for people to buy hugely expensive supplements that my Gran would probably have made in her kitchen. Yet some of these jokers try to kid on that they have a secret recipe etc.

    They also push the view on to people that if they don't take 'x' amount of this supplement and that supplement you will end up with cancer, dementia and a hole load of other frightening conditions. Due to this stress inducing advertising and the stress people put themselves under it could well be that the majority of medical conditions arise due to this stress.

    If you look for example at the supplements for the relief of menopause symptoms some of these companies give scary statistics about what will happen if you don't replace your oestrogen levels etc. What I would like to point out to them is that the menopause is a natural cycle within nature - whether the symptoms are pleasant or not - and to add onto a hormone that the body is naturally reducing seems to me to be going against what nature intends. Yet these companies are making money out of people by doing exactly that. There are some excellent and very natural, healthy products that you can use for the symptoms of menopause and basically they are herbs and a good diet - shopping around you can get them a lot cheaper than the greedy companies are asking for their dubious concoctions.

    I think at the bottom of it all, is many of these drug and supplement companies cynically play on society's fear of getting older and dying. We don't have a healthy attitude at all towards what is a natural progression of life and so powerful businesses use this as a tool to scare people and get them to buy their products and so the stress and paranoia trend continues.

    I have to say, many congratulations not only on reaching the wonderful age of 81 but also for not being on any medications - that has to be something of a record!! LOL! With many of my elderly residents in my previous job, when they first came to stay with us, they were quite poorly. The first thing our excellent GP Practice doctors did, was to stop the majority of their medications. The result within a day or so was amazing!

  • Nellieanna profile image

    Nellieanna Hay 

    6 years ago from TEXAS

    Definitely, seeker. Common sense is the victim of people becoming manipulated into believing they "need" much medical treatment which is not only unnecessary or ineffective but frequently creates more medical problems.

    In those earlier days you mention, people simply ddn't rely on medics for every little sniffle or ache. Doctors paid 'house calls' when there was a serious problem, birth or death. The people may not have been able to afford it, (certainly not at today's medical charges), but neither can today's folks who become convinced that they can't afford not to. Back then people's budgets really didn't see the need for the kind of expense for medical treatments that are touted as being vital now. People's bodies haven't changed all that much - other than as a result of taking in more harmful things & leaving out more healthy things. But the mindset is now changed to think differently.

    It's good that there is a comeback to more natural remedies AND a return to more sensible self-knowledge & self-care among many people. Let's hope it gains strength.

    BTW - I'm 81 and take no prescription meds and the couple of OTC items I use, only rarely, - I believe could be replaced with more natural things, if I had more access to them, which is actually my own responsibility.

    There is another thing that appalls me. Some older OTC curative items have been outlawed for 'side effects' which are so rare as to be almost non-existent, while prescription drugs with devastating long lists of side-effects are allowed and even cleverly advertised on TV so as to play down those awful possibilities and almost make them sound like benefits! :-] Go figure.

    Your hub and the discussion it's inspired is very valuable!

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi teaches12345, lovely to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub. There are some people who do seem to attract insects like mosquitoes more than others and it might be something to do with the blood chemicals, although most scientists say that it's the carbon dioxide we breath out that attracts them - but I think there has to be more to it than this, as quite a number of people do get targeted more than others.

    Avon does seem to be a very good repellent. I've heard of folks that couldn't find any repellent that worked until they tried the avon brand.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    6 years ago

    For some reason, mosquitoes are attracted to my blood so I avoid going out after dusk. I have found wearing Avon's Skin So Soft works for me when I do venture outdoors. Thanks for the eduation on the diseases bugs can cause. Very well done!

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Yes, when I looked after my elderly folks they had wonderful remedies for colds, colic, cuts and everything else. Like your own folks perhaps, many couldn't afford medical treatment in days gone by and had to rely on nature and the remedies handed down over the centuries. They were all dismissed by science of course - but funny how so many are now making a comeback. Our ancestors are much wiser than many scientists I think!

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    LOL!!! Hi Nellieanna - we all have them!

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    I first heard about quinine when I was nursing but I have heard in recent years that people take tonic water for all sorts of things and the swear by it!

  • Nellieanna profile image

    Nellieanna Hay 

    6 years ago from TEXAS

    Oh , my - a senior moment. I wasn't thinking about having asked permission to call you Helen - and responded to your "Helen is fine" as to your enjoying good health!

  • Nellieanna profile image

    Nellieanna Hay 

    6 years ago from TEXAS

    So happy to hear you're fine!!

    I think my brother did have some aftereffects of the malaria, Helen. I know my Dad was a believer in Bromo-Quinine, an over-the-counter cold remedy! Bitter pills, but effective!

    The local communities here are already preparing for the mosquito season & being very solicitous about their control. But it's a most difficult problem and more illness and deaths are anticipated, even so. The creatures didn't survive billions of years by being fragile & easy to annihilate, I'm sure.

    I believe that chiggars are rare if not absent from Europe - lucky you! They are very native in our Southern part of the U.S. The very Southwestern areas are extremely dry, though, so Dallas is sort on the borderline of their habitat. It starts becoming arid fairly suddenly as one goes westward. Even mosquitoes are much less a problem as one goes west. Both like moist, temperate climates, where chiggers lurk in tall grasses & weeds & prey on unsuspecting warm-blooded animals, including humans and mosquitoes must have water puddles at least to incubate their larvae - and blood to suck.

    haha - My husband wasn't elated about smelling like lavender oil! hehe. But he was very happy to be rid of the chiggers in the house and no longer being bitten!

    Yes, many 'home remedies' are not only effective but far less disruptive to normal body systems' healthy functioning. My parents were very into home remedies which were essential when we spent all summer every summer at the ranch - great distances from any medical help. Of course, they were of a generation which relied much more on effective home remedies. When they first married, they sold home medical books door-to-door, especially to rural folks in the Pacific Northwest, where they then lived. In our area of far SW Texas where they settled a bit later, neighbors are still quite spread out, but rely more on home remedies even now. :-)

  • Nellieanna profile image

    Nellieanna Hay 

    6 years ago from TEXAS

    I hadn't connected the bitterness of tonic with quinine! Maybe how it got to be called 'tonic', for its medicinal value.

    So interesting that a natural quinine source may be a bark native to hot countries - where malaria is more common, too.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Rosemay, yes it's nasty illness and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Quinine can be a dangerous drug at times, but having said that it has helped to save many lives. I know that at one time, quinine would be given to people to help with restless leg syndrome but then the abruptly stopped it.

    Now that's interesting about the African people eating bark for quinine - I wonder if that's the actual source for the drug?

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi moonlake, many thanks for stopping by and yes, encephalitis is not a pleasant illness at all!

  • Eiddwen profile image


    6 years ago from Wales

    Thank you so very much Martie for this great read;interesting and useful.


  • Rosemay50 profile image

    Rosemary Sadler 

    6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

    Yes I remember in London as a kid a Chinese man in a local restaurant had recurrent bout of malaria and he was given quinine. That is why gin and tonic are so popular in the tropics for the quinine content in the tonic water. I believe in India and Africa people chew on a particular bark for its quinine content.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Rasma, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub. Yes they are nasty little critters and what they carry is even nastier! As always, thanks for the visit and the share, always greatly appreciated!

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi ytsenoh,

    Many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub!

    I like bugs but at a distance - I don't like them crawling on me and if I see a spider near my bed I have to put it outside else I wouldn't be able to sleep knowing it was creeping about near me.

    That's interesting about the mosquitoes in Florida, as Nellieanna was just saying that Dallas is getting all ready for their mosquito hoards coming out due to the temperatures rising to 83F. It seems like these tiny flies just follow the sun and high temperatures and settle in very nicely! I'm sitting looking out my window - I'm in Scotland - and it's a blizzard + -2 degrees, at least there wont be any mosquitoes around my neck of the woods!

    Yes, I've heard so many people saying that Avon products are excellent for use as a repellent. We don't have mosquitoes in Scotland, we have a tiny little fly called a midge and their bite is very itchy but harmless, however, there are hoards of them in some places and I know many people who bought the Avon product and swear that it worked. I'm going to try it this summer when I'm out with the dogs hiking and see if it works for me as well.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Nellieanna, many thanks for stopping by and for a fascinating comment and story!

    That's very interesting about your brother, I looked after an elderly gentleman many years ago who also contracted malaria during WWII he still had recurrent bouts even when I knew him and yes, the doctors gave him quinine for this. Even after so many years it was awful to see how ill he could become.

    I have heard about the mosquito being on the rise in the USA in particular but I didn't realise it was as serious as the problem you have in Dallas. That is also very sad about the deaths that have occurred so hopefully the measures that have been put in place will have an effect form the majority of people. I was smiling a bit as you said about the temperatures rising to 83 in Dallas, I'm currently looking out of my window - 8pm at night - and it's blowing a blizzard here in Fife with the temperature about -2. But looking on the bright side, mosquitoes certainly don't like our Scottish weather and for that we should be grateful!

    Chiggers? Now I haven't heard of these little critters but your story was really interesting. I'm glad that you did manage to get rid of them eventually - I would hate the thought of having an infestation like that in my home. But isn't it wonderful how so many of the older remedies - often disregarded by those who think modern science has the answer to all - are excellent for so many different problems. Using lavender oil to get rid of them is not only healthier than using heavy chemicals on your skin, but the scent is very pleasant as well.

    Thank you so much for your interesting reply, I really enjoyed reading it. Oh and by the way, Helen is fine!

  • moonlake profile image


    6 years ago from America

    We always worry about La Crosse encephalitis here. Interesting hub voted up.

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Alastar, lovely as always to hear from you - even if I am still late!!

    I was actually shocked at just how many people who were famous did die of malaria or some other mosquito transmitted disease. It's a pity science couldn't use these little blighters to transmit something useful as they seem to be very good at it!

    As to history, that's a very interesting thought. How many battles - like the Huns in Rome - would have been won if not for the mosquito. Indeed, how often has this tiny insect perhaps changed the course of history with just a few bites?

    Yes I did see the wonderful comment you left - thank you! They really do mean a lot to me and keep me inspired to write more about my favourite subject!

  • Seeker7 profile imageAUTHOR

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Hi Rosemay, I have to say I was shocked as well when I found out how many different types of mosquito there are - no wonder insects out number humans millions of times over! Yes, I think with the temperature changes on the planet, it seems to be giving insects like the mosquito an even stronger hold than they have now.

    It is such a horrible illness, and yes I remember well about your lad. I looked after one old gentleman from my very early days in nursing. He had been a soldier in WWII and had caught malaria away back then and still had recurrent bouts of it when we looked after him. I'm almost sure the doctors gave him quinine to treat some of his symptoms. It was so sad to see this lovely old guy so ill with this dreadful disease on top of the other conditions he had to cope with. Yet, time and time again he would bounce back - awesome. I'm just glad Scotland doesn't have mosquitoes - we have the irritating midges - loads of them at times - but although they give itchy bites, they're harmless, so I wont complain about them this year after learning so much about the mosquito.

    As always many thanks for the vote up!!!

  • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

    Gypsy Rose Lee 

    6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

    Thanks for this informative and fascinating hub. I always knew mosquitoes were nasty things and I hate getting bit. Great information and useful ideas on how to avoid being bit. Passing this on.

  • ytsenoh profile image


    6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    This was a good hub because you provided a lot of information. I liked your "Did You Know?" sections. Personally, I don't like bugs, especially mosquitoes and spiders. There was a discussion on the radio about two weeks ago about the large mosquitoes arriving in parts of Florida and some other large bug in another country outside of the USA. It's really good to be aware of some of the information you provide no matter how squeamish it makes a reader feel. Of course, with summer coming on, repellent information is most useful. I heard that Avon's Skin-So-Soft is still used after all these years as a good repellent. Your section on Dengue Fever--I have never heard of this before. Thanks for your information here.

  • Nellieanna profile image

    Nellieanna Hay 

    6 years ago from TEXAS

    What an interesting and valuable article, Seeker, or Helen, if I may. I'm honored to be the first visitor.

    In my area - North Texas - we've been under a mosquto-caused infestation called West Nile Fever for the past couple of years, mostly in the hot-warm weather, but we've had more of that weather than usual during this time. There have been numerous illnesses and many deaths. Our cities have been on cue with spraying, both from the ground and from planes overhead. A concerted effort to encourage people to empty any standing water has been ongoing, along with treatment for standing water which may continue to accumulate with a larvicide 'donut'. The areas are preparing for a new siege now, as temperatures are beginning to rise. Today it was 83 F here in Dallas.

    All my life mosquitoes have not bitten me. I feel most fortunate. I don't know why but I have O-neg blood and maybe there's nothing in it they prefer. :-) But my brother contracted malaria during WWII when stationed in the Philippines, but recovered. Back then quinine was used as treatment, I believe.

    I am very susceptible to chiggers. It is their larva which attack warm bodies. They inject an enzyme, which digests the tissue for them to suck up and use to feed their development into mature chiggers. One''s body forms a protective shield around the area to prevent any spreading, which becomes hard and has led to the incorrect belief that the chigger has literally gotten under the skin and lodged there. Not so. Each larvae, which is a miniature of the mature insect, except that it has 6 legs, whereas the mature chigger has 8, bites only once and the adults do not bite. The bites are extremely itchy and the main danger is that in unconsciously scratching, them, infections occur.

    They prefer the outdoors and biting pets and small animals but will resort to humans if necessary. My husband and I had an experience of bringing some who were going dormant in October, back from the country in our luggage and they infested our house! They're nearly microscopic, so the evidence was the bites, which I recognized from a lifetime of being prey to the beasties. Having them inside is extremely rare. The doctor's ointment did little good to relieve the itch and certainly didn't prevent more bites. Pest control people were at a loss for a way to rid the house of them, other than emptying it completely and spraying everywhere. I went online and learned all about their life cycle. I read about people who had experienced an inside infestation and even moving from that house resulted in taking the chiggers to the new home! I finally stumbled onto the information that chiggers are repelled by lavender oil.

    So figured that if we could repel the larvae so they couldn't bite us and get nourishment for the next generation, we could starve them out. So every day after we showered, we ran a minimum amount of water in the tub, added a teaspoon or so of pure lavender oil which coated the surface of the water, in which we rolled around in the oily water so that the oil clung to us and coated all areas of our skin, dried off very gently and waited to starve them out, which worked over a period of time.

  • Alastar Packer profile image

    Alastar Packer 

    6 years ago from North Carolina

    Everything you want to know about disease bearing mosquito's is right here. Especially interesting to me is the Did You Know? Reading a lot of history I can't tell you how often malaria is a part of the story. Nice info and read, Helen. Btw, did you see my comment on your last paranormal hub? It was awesome as per..

  • Rosemay50 profile image

    Rosemary Sadler 

    6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

    Wow I didn’t realise there were so many different species, This is a very good hub as I am sure that mosquitoes are spreading themselves further afield around the world and you give some very useful advice on prevention and the symptoms to watch out for too.

    I remember our days in PNG gathered round Sunday mornings to take our pills, I don't recall injections being available back then. Had to stop my daughters medicine after 6 months though it made her so ill, I mean delerious... out of it for the next 48 hours. But she rarely got bitten and was never ill over the next 10 years so maybe she had her own built in preventative. As you know my son was extremely ill with malaria. We had to be so careful about not having stagnent water around the house.

    Awesome job and voting Up, useful info for everyone.


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