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World Mosquito Day brings awareness about ‘public enemy number one’

Published:Friday | August 21, 2015 | 8:00 AM
Aedes aegypti mosquito

Considered 'public enemy number one', yesterday's commemoration of World Mosquito Day sought to bring awareness about the Aedes Aegyti mosquito and to encourage the public to play its part in preventing the outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases by eliminating breeding sites.

There are more than 3,000 species of mosquitoes. Three are primarily responsible for the spread of human diseases:

1. Anopheles mosquitoes carry malaria and also transmit filariasis (also called elephantiasis) and encephalitis.

2. Culex mosquitoes carry encephalitis, filariasis, and the West Nile virus

3. Aedes mosquitoes carry dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever to zika virus and encephalitis

These species of mosquitoes transmit various types of diseases to more than 700 million people annually in Africa, South America, Central America, Mexico, Russia, and much of Asia, with millions of resultant deaths.

At least two million people die annually of these diseases, and the morbidity rates are many times greater.

World Mosquito Day is a commemoration of British doctor Sir Ronald Ross's discovery in 1897 that female mosquitoes transmit malaria in humans.

In 1902, Ross received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work on malaria. His discovery of the malarial parasite in the gastrointestinal tract of the Anopheles mosquito led to the realisation that malaria was transmitted by Anopheles, and laid the foundation for combating the disease.

Ross is responsible for the annual observance, having declared shortly after his discovery that the day should be known as World Mosquito Day.

 

MOSQUITO FACTS

 

- Female mosquitoes suck blood and use the blood as a source of protein for their eggs.

- For food, both males and females eat nectar and other plant sugars.

- All mosquitoes must complete their life cycle in water and need water to breed.

- Eradication and mosquito population-control efforts involve removal or treatment of water-holding sources.

- Insecticide spraying to kill adult mosquitoes is also necessary.

- Disease prevention, using prophylactic drugs, prevention of mosquito bites, with insecticides, nets, and repellents are key action required.