The Females are taking over the world. People Beware!
September 10, 2016

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It is a common knowledge that only females of the mosquitoes depend on blood of animals and humans (If you didn’t know the fact, the article has begun enlightening you already). They use the protein and iron found in blood to make their eggs. For nutrition females feed on nectar and water, just like males do.

Consequently only females of the several mosquito species act as vector for mosquito borne disease. Moreover the life span of a female mosquito is of a few weeks as compared to only a week for males. This makes their disease carrying capacity even stronger. It is estimated that about 1-2 million direct deaths occur worldwide due to mosquito borne diseases.

The Superstars

  •  Anopheles – The vector of malaria, she can be considered as the most dangerous animal in the world (of course barring humans). Malaria is undoubtedly the most deadly disease of all times and pretty common one too. Aptly called the world conqueror’s conqueror, this mosquito was responsible for death of Alexander the Great due to malaria (historians still not sure of this though).
  • Aedes aegypti – This species is most versatile and act as vector for a number of deadly diseases such as dengue, chikanguniya, yellow fever, west Nile fever and the latest baby in town Zika among others.

Perhaps the biggest problem with these diseases is the swiftness with which they spread. Consider this – the Zika which was detected just 9 years ago in Brazil has now spread to over 70 countries now and is threatening to enter most populous countries, China and India.

Apart from this the growing adaptability of the vectors and viruses against mosquito controlling drugs and pesticides and their evolution to co-exist with humans is also a big worrying trend.

Moreover there could be various other mosquitos borne disease which are existing but are not known in medical science. They can have symptoms similar to malaria or dengue making their identification even more difficult.  For example -  Kyasanur Forest disease (detected in 1957) has symptoms similar to dengue and chikanguniya. It could easily be mistaken for either of those. Similarly other unknown diseases could exist. Protection against these mysterious diseases would be even more difficult.

The way forward

The medical and scientific community all over the world is researching on how to control the incidence of mosquito borne diseases. But the most simple of the methods is most effective à don’t let the mosquitoes thrive and don’t let the mosquitoes bite you.

Keeping cleanliness in urban areas would control mosquito population a lot. In forest and rural areas where conditions are better for mosquito growth the use of mosquito nets (or pesticide treated mosquito nets), wearing body covering clothes etc would be the most effective solution.

Perhaps we should learn from Sri Lanka which despite being a tropical country has been successful in eradicating malaria.

Remember, next time when a mosquito bites you don’t say “ Machhar Kaat liya” ; say “ Macchar Kaat lee”.

Shringi Sharan

Jharkhand Finance Service