From Reader’s Digest
June 5, 2018
Skeeters can spread deadly disease. Malaria, dengue, and yellow fever kill several million people every year, according to the World Health Organization. Here’s what you need on your radar—and how worried you should be.
When mosquitoes bite a person or animal infected with a virus, like Zika, dengue, or St. Louis encephalitis, the skeeter can go on and transmit when they bite another person. That’s scary, considering that these are stealth little buggers that bite you on the sly. However, time for a deep breath: “While these diseases are in the news, there’s relatively little risk to either people living in the U.S. or traveling abroad,” says Jared Aldstadt, PhD, a medical geographer and expert in the transmission of mosquito-borne illnesses at the University of Buffalo. That said, while the likelihood is low, the risk is real, so having these diseases on your radar is smart. Learn about 10 things that attract mosquitoes.
You might not have heard of Zika until 2016, when the CDC issued a travel alert for places known to have the virus. Particularly concerning was the fact that the Zika virus was linked to microcephaly, a birth defect in which the baby’s head is smaller than normal. The virus is transmitted by a bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Despite the outbreaks, it’s quieted down significantly in 2018. Why? There’s one Zika virus, and you can only get it once. That means people who have already been bitten by infected Aedes mosquitoes are immune, limiting its spread, says Aldstadt. As of May 2018, only 21 cases had been reported in the United States all year, and none were from U.S. mosquitoes—all of those infected had been traveling to affected areas, according to CDC data. Learn why one company decided to release 20 million mosquitoes in California.