What Diseases Do Mosquitoes Spread?
Mosquitoes are widely known for the many diseases they’ve spread across our planet. Each year, there are more than 700,000 deaths from vector-borne diseases. A vector-borne disease is one that is passed from an infected insect to another animal. These diseases have disproportionately affected populations in tropical and subtropical regions, but pose a threat to the entire world. The most frequently seen mosquito-borne diseases are:
- Yellow fever
- Zika virus
- West Nile fever
- Chagas disease
- Rift Valley fever
Which Species of Mosquitoes Can Transmit Disease?
The three species of disease-spreading mosquitoes are the Aedes, Culex, and Anopheles varieties. There are multiple subspecies within these families. Fortunately, there are many species of mosquitoes that are not responsible for passing on diseases and are primarily nuisance pests. Here in Illinois and Indiana, we have had reported cases of the Culex mosquito, which is capable of transmitting disease.
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Which Diseases Do Mosquitoes Carry in Illinois and Indiana?
More than 200 types of mosquitoes are found in the U.S. Of these, only about 12 subspecies are capable of transmitting disease. The diseases that have been found in the United States include Zika virus, dengue, chikungunya, and malaria; these outbreaks occurred in Illinois and Indiana, Texas, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Note that these are all humid, subtropical climates. Most cases of malaria reported in the U.S can be attributed to travelers returning from tropical areas. Most kinds of mosquitoes that we encounter are simply nuisance mosquitoes that are incapable of transmitting the diseases that cause serious illnesses.
Signs of Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Mosquito bites from nuisance species will often result in negligible symptoms. However, it is important to be aware of the signs of more serious diseases contracted from mosquitoes. Common symptoms of vector-borne diseases include:
- Sudden high fever
- Muscle tremors or seizures
- Stiff neck
- Nausea or vomiting
- Severe headaches
If you are noticing any of these symptoms and believe them to be associated with a recent mosquito bite, you should visit your local hospital immediately.