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The Financial Express

Deadly killer of mankind: Threat of mosquito-borne diseases


File photo used for representational purpose. (Collected) File photo used for representational purpose. (Collected)

Almost half a million people die from homicide each year. However, mosquitoes kill a higher number of humans – approximately 725,000 a year. A creature only the size of a thumbnail is the greatest killer of men! And half of the world’s population are at risk of mosquito-borne diseases.

Research says there are 3,500 known mosquito species.

Aedes Aegypti can transmit Zika, yellow fever, and dengue fever, while Aedes Albopictus spreads yellow fever and dengue fever and West Nile virus.

Just imagine sleeping one night without a mosquito net in Dhaka or any other city; we can automatically envision who would be the predator and prey.

While Malaria infection in Bangladesh is currently at a lower level except in Chittagong Hill Tracts, mosquito menace has been on the rise, particularly dengue.

The recent rise in dengue cases amid the Covid-19 crisis is adding to the existing strain in the healthcare system. More and more people are being hospitalised from mosquito-borne diseases. This is adding extra burden and hindering treatment.

Since January of this year, almost 9,000 patients have been hospitalised due to dengue and this number is still increasing. It has reached the stage where it is common to test both for dengue and Covid-19 at the same time when a patient shows signs of fever and cold-like symptoms.

Worldwide, dengue cases have increased 30-fold compared to 30 years ago; three billion people are at risk from dengue alone. Annually 2.7 million people fall prey and die of mosquito-borne diseases globally.

Mosquitoes can adapt to new environments easily and reproduce in small-scale waterbodies. Common sites that hold swimming pools, buckets, tires, and boats can quickly become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Despite human power and progress, mosquitoes seem to somehow always escape and come back even stronger. Several of their species have become resistant to human-made insecticides and have changed feeding habits. For instance, many of their kind now feed on blood during the day. Hence the deadliness of the Anopheles mosquitoes has increased.

Without mosquitoes, we would not be victims of the Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue, and malaria.

So, it’s crucial for us to better understand the habitat, behaviour, transmissibility, and control method in regards to mosquitoes. Globally we do this on World Mosquito Day, which is observed annually on August 20. It is to commemorate the research of Sir Ronald Ross who discovered in 1897 that the female anopheline mosquitoes were responsible for Malaria transmission in humans. This discovery has laid the foundation and paved the way forward for vector control.

We must remember that mosquito-related research is as important today as it was in 1897. These tiny flies are here to stay and bring about more destruction and chaos. We need to acknowledge them as a threat. Only through raising awareness can we combat and ensure that humans are safeguarded against these bloodthirsty creatures.

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