Infection: Mosquito-Borne Diseases

views updated

Infection: Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Mosquito-borne diseases are illnesses transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The insects are called vectors of these diseases because they transmit disease-causing organisms from one host to another even though they do not cause the disease directly or become affected by the disease. For example, the mosquitoes that transmit malaria pick up the protozoa (one-celled organisms) that cause malaria from an infected human when they bite through the skin and take up blood containing the parasites. The parasites reproduce inside the salivary glands of the mosquito and are transmitted to a new host when the mosquito bites that person.

Mosquito-borne diseases include those caused by viruses as well as those caused by protozoa. There are several types of viral encephalitis (inflammation of the brain tissue), some of which can be life threatening. West Nile virus infection is another viral disease carried by infected mosquitoes.

Mosquito-borne diseases are a public health problem around the world—particularly in developing countries—because there are no effective vaccines for humans against these diseases. Prevention still depends on draining pools and water containers where mosquitoes breed; keeping

mosquitoes out of the home; and avoiding traveling to countries with high rates of malaria and viral encephalitis.

SEE ALSO Encephalitis; Malaria; West Nile virus infection

About this article

Infection: Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Updated About content Print Article