World Mosquito Day 2019: The 6 most dangerous mosquito-borne
Mosquito-borne diseases are now a global health problem, affecting large numbers of the population across the world. Most of the diseases transmitted by mosquito bites are life-threatening. World Mosquito Day, celebrated on 20th August each year, raises awareness about the threat of malaria and other diseases transmitted by mosquitos.

World Mosquito Day also commemorates British doctor Sir Ronald Ross’ 1897 discovery that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans.

It is said that mosquito menace across the world causes approximately 1 million deaths every year. We treat mosquito bites as a minor inconvenience or as the annoying itchy bumps on our skin. But the problem is more serious than what appears on the surface.

Malaria is considered as one of the deadliest vector-borne diseases. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there were an estimated 435 000 deaths from malaria across the world in 2017. Yet, the good news is that cases of malaria have remarkably reduced in India. In 2017, India accounted for 4% of malaria cases worldwide, but the WHO reported a significant fall in the incidence of malaria cases in South-East Asia Region, including India, - the incidence rate of malaria declined in the region between 2010 and 2017, from 17 to 7 cases per 1000 population at risk. Even the most high-risk regions in India (such as Odisha and the north-eastern states) have seen a remarkable drop in malaria cases. In its quest to completely eradicate Malaria by 2030, India is making efforts to provide free access to bed-nets, expand the use of rapid diagnosis and provide early treatment. However, to this date, no vaccination for this disease has been discovered yet. Various public sensitisation programmes have also been launched by the central authorities.

Dengue Fever
Dengue fever has increasingly become a cause of concern in India with a drastic increase in the reported cases of the disease. According to a government journal, cases of dengue in 2017 increased to 160,000 from 100,000 in 2015. India is amongst one of the most high-risk regions for dengue fever. After evaluating the situation, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is planning to allocate free dengue kits in 618 hospitals and 16 labs. They are also making efforts to increase mosquito surveillance and management. Since there is no specific treatment or cure for dengue fever, people must take necessary preventive measures to secure themselves from this disease.

Yellow Fever
Yellow fever is caused by the Flavivirus and it is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Yellow fever occurs in sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and in some parts of the Caribbean. Indians are not exposed to this disease as there haven’t been any reported cases of yellow fever in the last few decades. However, people are strongly advised to get the vaccine for yellow fever before travelling to high-risk regions. There is no known cure for this disease and the treatment is symptomatic, and aimed at reducing the symptoms for the comfort of the patient.

The fact is that different types of viruses can cause this illness- for example, West Nile virus, which is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease especially in the continental US, can cause encephalitis. Encephalitis is an acute inflammation of the brain and requires immediate treatment. This condition causes problems with the brain and spinal cord function. Encephalitis is becoming a growing cause of concern in India. A recent epidemic of this disease which resulted in the death of about 500 children in Gorakhpur and nearby districts cautioned a pressing need for public health emergency in India. Children and elderly individuals with compromised immunity are more prone to this disease. Symptoms include fever, confusion, drowsiness, hallucinations, headache, fatigue or weakness, seizures, muscle and joints pain. Treatment for encephalitis focuses on alleviating the symptoms.

Zika Virus Disease
Zika was quite uncommon in India until an outbreak in Jaipur (a popular destination for tourists) ended up infecting more than 130 people. The problem soon spanned across India and became an acute health concern. India is among the 80 countries that have been affected by this disease. Symptoms of this disease are usually mild and may include - fever, pink eye, rash, muscle or joint pain. But an infected pregnant woman is more likely to pass on the virus to the foetus, which may result in the infant getting some congenital malformations. There is no vaccine for this disease and pregnant women are advised to not travel to high-risk regions.

Chikungunya is most commonly found in Africa and Asia, including India. In 2018, India observed a resurgence of this disease with more than 1 lakh cases reported in that year. The increase in the cases has been majorly attributed to climate change. Researchers have claimed that Chikungunya can occur between 20-34 degrees Celsius but peaks at around 29 degrees. This means the rise in temperature in India will also increase the risk of people getting infected with Chikungunya. Apart from canvasing and managing the disease, the authorities in India will also need to work on plans that can help tackle the rising temperature in the country. Currently, there is no known cure or vaccine available for chikungunya. However, its symptoms such as persistent joint pain, fever, nausea, headache, etc, can be treated.

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