In Mosquito-borne diseases, Virology

What would you say is the world’s most dangerous animal? A wolf? A shark? Wrong – it’s the mosquito. Mosquitoes transmit diseases causing over a million deaths every year. For World Mosquito Day, here are some of the most dangerous mosquito-borne infections and how to diagnose them.

 

Mosquitoes are only a few millimeters in size, but still extremely dangerous. The diseases they transmit are a global threat. Globalization and environmental changes show a strong impact on disease transmission which continuously increased in recent years not only in tropical regions of Africa, Asia and South America. One of the biggest problems is that there is no vaccine for most of these diseases. The best – and often the only – protection is the avoidance of mosquito bites, for example by appropriate clothing and mosquito nets.

 

Which diseases can be transmitted by mosquitoes?

+ Zika: The zika virus is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes. Usually, people infected with zika show only mild symptoms. However, there is scientific evidence that the zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

+ Chikungunya: The chikungunya virus, like the zika virus, is transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes. Transmission is not limited to Africa and Asia but occurred also in America and even in Europe in recent years. Symptoms are similar to those of dengue fever and yellow fever.

+ Dengue: Dengue fever is the most common arboviral disease and is also transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes. About half of the world’s population lives in risk areas, resulting in estimated 390 million infections per year. There is no specific treatment for dengue; however, early detection and supportive treatment lower fatality rates.

+ Malaria: Malaria is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by infection with the parasite plasmodium and is transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. Malaria is one of the world’s largest public health problems with estimated 400,000 deaths per year. Further information on malaria, its prevalence, symptoms and diagnosis is available here.

 

How are mosquito-borne diseases diagnosed?

Diagnosis is one major challenge since several mosquito-borne diseases show similar, unspecific symptoms such as fever, muscle or joint pain. At the same time, a diagnosis must be made as quickly as possible in order to start therapy early and to avoid complications. A blood test is indispensable for the diagnosis. A fast and reliable method is a so-called ELISA test, which detects antibodies or antigens in the blood. A mosquito-borne disease panel in ELISA format for differentiation of the said infections (Zika IgG+IgM, Dengue IgG+IgM, Chikungunya IgG+IgM, Malaria Ab) will soon be available. In addition, a rapid test is available for malaria, which can be easily performed also by persons without special training.

Would you like to learn more about mosquito-borne diseases? We look forward to hearing from you!

 

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