As Diseases Proliferate: Mosquitoes Are Becoming Public Enemy No. 1

Categories: News

When we moved to the tropics, our concern was to first find a place to live and farm, make sure our girls were happy and we felt safe. The tropics meant for us having plenty of water in the form of rain to harvest and to utilize, coming from SoCal it was one of our priorities. I never even considered mosquitoes or even the possibility of getting sick because of it.

A month ago I felt ill and was diagnosed with Chikungunya. The pain I felt in all my joints was unbearable and it kept me in bed unable to walk for almost 7 days. I have had relapses since then where walking is difficult or holding pots or pans is painful. 

I have found this article and felt like sharing it, the dangers are real and we must take care and be cautious. This article I found in USAToday, hope you find it insightful.

As diseases go, Zika virus was always considered minor league.

It didn't make people all that sick; most infected people had no symptoms at all. Zika was confined to a relatively narrow belt that ran from equatorial Africa to Asia.

Today, Zika has spread to Central and South America and is linked to an alarming increase in once-rare birth defects in Brazil. Although Zika was first diagnosed in Brazil in May, it's been linked to more than 3,500 cases of microcephaly, in which infants are born with small heads and immature brain development.

Yet Brazil isn't just fighting Zika.

That country is also combating outbreaks caused by dengue and chikungunya viruses, which are known for causing fevers and debilitating joint pain. Dengue can be fatal.

The USA needs to prepare for a similar scenario, in which epidemics of multiple mosquito-borne diseases break out simultaneously, according to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who co-wrote a new report in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Diseases spread by insects "are the next big threat to the Western Hemisphere, including the U.S.," saidPeter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Dengue, chikungunya and Zika are spread by the same species of mosquito -- known as the Aedes -- and can be found in much of the USA, said Amesh Adalja, a senior associate at the Center for Health Security at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

And while mosquitoes have brought disease and death for thousands of years, modern life is magnifying their reach, wrote Fauci and co-author David Morens, also of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a report published online Thursday.

"Urban crowding, constant international travel and other human behaviors . . . can cause innumerable slumbering infectious agents to emerge unexpectedly," they wrote.

Parts of the USA already have been hit.

Dengue has infected more than 200 people in Hawaii.

Chikungunya -- which was unknown in the Western Hemisphere until 2013 -- now spreads routinely in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In December, Puerto Rico reported its first locally acquired case of Zika, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This week, health officials announced a Houston-area woman was diagnosed with Zika, which she developed after traveling to Latin America.

In this Dec. 23, 2015 photo, Dejailson Arruda holds his daughter, Luiza, at their house in Santa Cruz do Capibaribe, in Pernambuco state, Brazil. Luiza was born in October with a rare condition, known as microcephaly. Luiza's mother, Angelica Pereira, was infected with the Zika virus after a mosquito bite. Brazilian health authorities are convinced that Luiza's condition is related to the Zika virus that infected her mother during pregnancy. (Photo: AP)

For reasons that scientists don't understand, Zika outbreaks spread by Aedes mosquitoes often follow epidemics of chikungunya, Fauci and Morens wrote.

Modern medicine doesn't have much to offer against these illnesses.

Although Sanofi Pasteur has developed a dengue vaccine, there are no vaccines for chikungunya and Zika.  There are no drugs to fight any of these diseases. Because they're caused by viruses, antibiotics don't work against them.

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