What is it About?
The World Mosquito Day is celebrated on August 20 each year in memory of Sir Ronald Ross, a British doctor. In 1897, he had discovered that it is the female mosquitoes that spread malaria in humans. After the world changing discovery happened, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine started celebrating it in 1930. Dr Ross eventually became the first British person to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1902. Thus, his discovery became the cornerstone for scientists to figure out the lethal role of mosquitoes that currently infect millions of people worldwide with malaria each year leading to death. With monsoon around the corner, these tiny terrors pose a serious threat to everyone’s well-being. Let us dwell into further details of these disease-carrying mosquitoes and ways to tackle them.
There are many health dangers associated with mosquitoes due to their ability to carry and spread diseases to humans. Mosquitoes do not bite, in fact they feed on plant nectar and blood as they need protein to reproduce. Male mosquitoes feed on plant nectar whereas female mosquitoes feed on plant nectar and also suck the blood by piercing through the skin with their proboscis (an elongated sucking mouthpart). Mosquitoes are the most active at night and fly for miles to feast on blood meal.
High Risk Zone: Who is at Risk?
- Young children and infants
- Elderly people
- Pregnant women and their unborn children
- Travelers coming from areas less prone to mosquito borne diseases
There are several different types of mosquitoes that act as vectors (living organisms that can impart infectious diseases from animals to humans or between humans). Aedes, Anopheles, Culex mosquitoes carry many different diseases enlisted below:
- Aedes: Dengue fever, Chikungunya, Lymphatic filariasis, Yellow fever, Rift Valley fever, Zika
- Anopheles: Malaria, Lymphatic filariasis (in Africa)
- Culex: Lymphatic filariasis, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile fever
- Female Aedes aegypti mosquito may be noted for the following features:
- It is most active during the daytime, though the peak biting periods are early morning and just before sunset.
- It can breed in small quantity of water in any storage container.
- Its eggs can live without water for more than one year.
- Usually it can fly at an average of 400 meters, but it can be accidentally transported by humans from one place to another.
Anopheles mosquito can be identified from other mosquitoes based on the following observations:
- It breeds in rainwater pools and puddles, rice fields, irrigation channels, riverbed pools, borrow pits, seepage, pond margins, sluggish streams with sandy margins.
- It is usually more active and bite between dusk and dawn.
- It has black and white patches.
- Color: It varies from yellowish-dark brown to black in color.
- Size: It is usually bigger in size.
- Resting Angle: You may identify this mosquito by observing its resting angle which is usually 45° angle.
The Mosquito Trap
Mosquitoes breed in moist, soft soil or stagnant water sources such as old tires, storm drains, birdbaths and children’s wading pools. Let’s know about the ways to eliminate mosquito breeding and adult mosquito population:
Clean away the Mosquito Menace: Environment management
- At least once a week remove water from coolers and small containers.
- Keep a check inside and outside your house. Throw away items that hold water like buckets, flowerpots, tires, etc.
- Cover all water storing containers tightly to avoid any breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Weekly scrub vases and containers to remove mosquito eggs.
- Use air conditioners rather than open windows and doors especially in monsoon.
We can defeat the mosquito larva (the active immature form of an insect) growth by following certain techniques such as:
- Add fish such as Gambusia and Guppy in gardens and ornamental water tanks as they feed on the mosquito larvae.
- Using bacteria such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt H-14) in stagnant water as it kills mosquito larvae.
Remember: These do not pose any danger to humans, other animals or the environment when used according to directions.
Net Profit- Prevention at its Best
- Install screens or wire mesh on windows and doors.
- Repair any rips or holes in the screens.
- Use wire mesh to cover containers without lids.
- Use net or mosquito repellent devices while sleeping.
Beware of the Bite
- Wear full sleeves shirts and pants to avoid any exposure of skin.
- Use mosquito repellent creams when going out.
- Frequently spray insect repellents such as DEET outside your house like outdoor gardens, balconies, etc.
Fight the Bite
Follow these handy home remedies to help in fighting mosquito breeding around us. Read on to know further details:
Cinnamon possesses anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and helps in healing the symptoms of malaria.
How to use: Drink the concoction made by adding black pepper and cinnamon in boiling water.
You can add some honey to enhance the taste.
2. Sugar Cane Juice
Sugar cane juice is a great source of energy and may also help in fighting infection. It possesses antioxidant and antimalarial properties.
How to use: If you feel nausea, drink a glass of sugarcane juice with some lemon squeezed in it.
3. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits such as orange, lime and lemon help to eliminate fever, prevent the spread of the infection and accelerate healing.
How to use: Squeeze the entire lemon into a glass of water and drink it. You may also have orange juice.
Ginger boosts immunity and speeds up recovery after an infection.
How to use: Boil ginger and water and drink it twice a day. You may also eat fresh piece of ginger.
Directorate General of Health Services has introduced the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), is a nodal agency under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GOI that prevents and controls vector-borne conditions namely Malaria, Dengue, Kala-azar, Filariasis, Chikungunya Lymphatic and Japanese Encephalitis.
The Indian Council of Medical Research Institute, National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR) is responsible for controlling the spread of malaria by promoting research and fighting the threat posed by malaria. NIMR has field stations which evaluate new diagnostic kits and insecticides. It is providing help by conducting drug trials and monitoring vector resistance to insecticides and drugs.
Triumph Over the Threat
The government has raised fight against this growing threat at the center of its efforts and will focus on reducing the appalling death toll across the country. We must support government initiatives for this cause. A small positive step can prevent these diseases effectively provided each one of us develop awareness and practice these measures.
- Can mosquitoes transmit HIV AIDS?
No, mosquitoes can spread malaria, dengue and chikungunya but not HIV.
- Why do mosquitoes bite some people more than others?
This is because mosquitoes hunt by detecting body heat and presence of carbon dioxide (the gas we breathe out).