A Treat for the Mosquitoes
Concept: Diseases Caused by Mosquitoes and their Prevention
What is a Vector?
- A living organism that transfers an infectious agent from an infected person to a healthy person is called a vector.
- These vectors carry pathogens that multiply in or on their bodies. These pathogens are then transferred to healthy people when the vectors bite them.
A mosquito as a vector:
- The mouthparts of mosquitoes are specialised for piercing and sucking.
- Mouthparts in a mosquito comprise—paired maxibles and mandibles, which are shaped like needles.
- Male mosquitoes do not spread diseases as they feed on plant juices. Female mosquitoes feed on blood to obtain the protein required to lay eggs.
- Female mosquito penetrates the pointed maxilla while biting a host and use their proboscis to suck the blood.
- The mouthparts in females are elongated, and the labrum forms the main feeding tube.
- They inject an anticoagulant into the blood, which prevents it from coagulating while being sucked up.
- They are attracted to the host by their body odour, heat and carbon dioxide.
- The diseases which are spread by the bite of an infected mosquito are called mosquito-borne diseases.
- The causal organism of the disease spread by mosquitoes can be a parasite or virus. Examples: Malaria is spread by a parasite, whereas a virus causes dengue.
- The rate of mosquito-borne diseases has increased due to the following reasons—
- Travelling to different places
- Population explosion.
Let us now discuss a few mosquito-borne diseases.
- Cause:Dengue is caused by the transmission of the Dengue virus.
- Carrier: The carrier is a female Aedes aegypti mosquito.
- Nausea and vomiting accompanied by belly pain.
- Rashes on the body.
- Body ache along with severe headache.
- Diarrhoea, fever and joint pain.
- Dengue is treated by drugs like paracetamol that controls fevers and body aches.
- Increasing the intake of fluids helps in quick recovery.
- Pregnant women and infants are more prone to dengue and must be under close supervision and treated in isolated healthcare units when required.
- Cause: Malaria is caused by the parasite Plasmodium.
- Carrier: The carrier is a female Anopheles mosquito.
- Fever with chills.
- Fatigue, muscle pain and headaches.
- Breathing troubles and cough.
- Diarrhoea and vomiting.
- Since a parasite causes it, the process of treatment includes the drugs which resist the multiplication of malarial parasites.
- Cause: Chikungunya is caused by the chikungunya virus.
- Carrier: The carrier is Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus.
- Symptoms in chikungunya develop after 5-7 days of infection.
- Fever and joint pain are the most prominent symptoms.
- Headache and muscle pain.
- Swollen joints and rashes.
- Since it is a viral disease, it cannot be cured with any medicine or drugs.
- Drugs like acetaminophen or paracetamol are used to treat fever and joint pain.
- The chances of recurrence of disease in a person who has already suffered from it are less likely.
- Taking rest would allow the body to recover quickly.
- Liquid intake should be increased to prevent dehydration.
Prevention of diseases caused by mosquitoes:
- Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water. Hence, to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes, one should not allow water to collect in areas around the house.
- Keep the surroundings clean and dump the garbage in closed pits.
- Use mosquito repellents while going outdoors, especially in the rainy and spring seasons.
- Use nets and bedsheets to cover yourself while sleeping.
- Avoid playing outdoors at dusk and dawn, which is the optimum time for mosquitoes to bite and find hosts.
- The containers used for water storage should be washed and refilled regularly.
- Things like water baths, fountains, pet bowls and swimming pools should be cleaned and disinfected so mosquito larva cannot breed.
- Cover the windows with mesh screens to avoid the entry of mosquitoes into the house.
- Use artificial or natural fumigants like dry neem leaves and cloves to fumigate the house as these do not allow the mosquitoes to grow.
Diagnosis of mosquito-borne diseases:
- Blood smear test
- A drop of blood is obtained by pricking the finger for performing a blood smear test.
- This blood drop is smeared on a sterile glass slide.
- This smear is observed under a microscope to check whether any parasite is found.
- A blood smear test is done for the diagnosis of malarial parasites.
Dehydration: Excessive loss of body fluids which leads to harmful effects.
Fatigue: Tiredness or exhaustion.
Anticoagulant: Something that prevents the blood from clotting.
Did You Know?
- Tulsi plant is a natural repellent for mosquitoes. It does not allow the larvae to grow and keeps the mosquitoes away.
- Mosquitoes do not like the smell of burnt rosemary and stay away.
- Burning camphor in a closed room is an effective remedy for keeping the mosquitoes away.
- Light coloured clothes keep the mosquitoes away as they are more attracted to dark colours.