There are around 3000 species of mosquitoes that are found in almost all parts of the world. While male mosquitoes feed on flower nectar, females have piercing mouth parts that are adapted for biting humans and animals. They derive protein from the blood of warm-blooded animals, as they need nourishment for laying eggs. While biting, female mosquitoes use their saliva as a lubricant. The bite, along with the saliva causes irritation. Usually, symptoms like irritation and itching last for a short duration. Some people may also develop allergic reactions. Infamous for their nasty bites, mosquitoes carry disease-causing microorganisms too.
Mosquito bites are usually considered harmless, but an infected mosquito bite may cause illness. When a mosquito bites an infected animal or human, and then bites a person, the latter may get infected. The mosquito transmits the disease-causing microorganisms in its saliva to the blood of the victim. Mosquitoes spread diseases like malaria, chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever, encephalitis, West Nile Virus, etc. Most of the illnesses spread by mosquitoes have some common symptoms, that are given below:
- Skin rash
- Sore throat
- Body pain
Chikungunya is characterized by sudden onset of fever, along with severe joint pain. Other symptoms include headache and skin rash. Joint pain caused by this disease may last for a few months.
Encephalitis is a medical condition that causes irritation and inflammation of the brain. Usually, it causes flu-like symptoms, such as fever and headache. Rarely, the condition may worsen and cause severe symptoms like seizures, confusion, loss of consciousness, etc. Such symptoms should be treated as a medical emergency.
Dengue fever causes symptoms like high fever, severe headache, skin rash, joint pain, pain behind eyes, nausea, and mild bleeding from the gums. Rarely, complications like dengue hemorrhagic fever may develop, and the condition may lead to massive bleeding and even death.
West Nile Virus may not cause any symptom in most of the affected people. Some may develop mild symptoms like fever, headache, weakness, skin rash, etc. In some rare cases, the condition may worsen and the affected person may develop encephalitis and meningitis.
Yellow fever causes mild flue-like symptoms that may subside with proper rest and medication. However, weakness may persist for a few months. Rarely, the condition may worsen in some of the affected people, who may develop high fever, jaundice, and bleeding. It may also lead to failure of the liver and kidneys. Yellow fever can also be asymptomatic in many people.
Malaria can cause symptoms like high fever and chills, headache, muscle pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. The condition may develop within 10 to 20 days after getting infected. Some people develop symptoms after a year. If left untreated, malaria may cause life-threatening complications.
Some people are allergic to mosquito bites. In such cases, symptoms like severe itching, rash, swelling, hives, lesions and bruises, and lymph node inflammation may develop. Rarely, life-threatening anaphylactic reactions may also develop.
Treatment for infected mosquito bites may vary with the type and severity of the infection. It is advisable to seek medical attention, as soon as you develop symptoms like fever, skin rash, joint pain, and headache. The best thing is to avoid mosquito bites in the first place. Mosquitoes become more active during dawn and dusk, and during spring, summer, and rainy season. Use window screens and get rid of stagnant water in the surroundings. You may also try mosquito repellents to get rid of these insects.
Mosquitoes thrive best in moist and swampy areas. So, it is a must to keep your house and surrounding areas clean. There are several plants that repel mosquitoes and you can grow some of them in your garden. Plants like cedar, geranium, lemon grass, and citronella are very useful mosquito repellents. Camphor is another home remedy for repelling mosquitoes. Keep some pellets in bowls filled with water.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.