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Mosquitoes are back in fashion or perhaps they never stopped being, but some years we notice them less, partly taken by other concerns. Yet these insects are not only annoying and not only cause unsightly "bumps" but also cause health problems, not only in tropical countries, often our holiday destinations. The diseases transmitted by mosquitoes in Italy they are not few and it is worth knowing them because the numbers that describe their impact do not tell of a marginal phenomenon but rather a worrying one. This is not a red alert but an invitation not to take these insects lightly as there are more than 700,000 people worldwide die each year from mosquito-borne diseases. Our thoughts immediately turn to malaria, the best known and most talked about disease, but there are several other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes in Italy to beware of. They represent 17% of all infectious diseases, according to data fromWorld Health Organization (WHO).
Anopheles mosquito diseases
The mosquito belonging to the genus Anopheles is the one responsible for malaria. An Italian scientist discovered it, Giovanni Battista Grassi, after Sir Ronald Ross, a British Army medical officer in India, had sensed a connection between these insects and disease in 1897.
Most Anopheles mosquito infections and deaths from malaria occur in Africa and India but we don't have to feel safe as there are cases around the world. In 2018 the World Malaria Report reported 200 million with about 435 thousand deaths, often children under five. In Italy to date there are no cases but the mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles flutter in our sky so it is essential not to let your guard down and monitor the situation.
Continuing the study of mosquito-borne diseases has led to the identification of others to control. The species aedes aegypti, known as the mosquito of the yellow fever, it can cause yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, zika, West Nile virus and other conditions. There Culex mosquito transmits filariasis and a type of viral encephalitis. Research continues to detect the presence of various pathogens, such as arboviruses and arbovirosis, including chikungunya, dengue, zika and West Nile virus fever.
Tiger mosquito diseases
The tiger mosquito is the one that scares most people, it is a vector of diseases such as Chikungunya and Dengue but not malaria. Let's see what pathologies it is. The first is a tropical disease, its virus is present in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Indian sub-continent and, in general, in the Indian Ocean area. The second is an acute viral disease that can present itself in two distinct forms: the classic dengue and the hemorrhagic dengue. Its virus is also present in Central America and South America. It goes without saying that if we intend to undertake a trip to these areas we must take the necessary precautions to defend ourselves from mosquito bites.
Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes to dogs and cats
So far we have understandably worried about us, the human race, but anyone who owns a dog or a cat knows that even our little friends are at risk of contracting diseases from insects. One of them, one of the most common, is the Filariasis, widespread mainly in the Mediterranean countries, but also in the Lake Garda and in Po Valley. After several months of infection, when the heartworm larvae reach the adult stage, respiratory disorders, cough, vascular obstruction and weakness are recorded. Filariasis can also cause the death of the animal if it is not treated in time, it is therefore very important to protect them from mosquito bites and to follow a prophylactic therapy with special deworming drugs (before and after exposure).
Another rather well-known disease, however transmitted by sand flies, which are very similar to mosquitoes, is the Leishmaniasis. Also widespread in Italy, this disease can cause skin changes, apathy, diarrhea, vomiting, swelling of the lymph nodes. It is therefore necessary to protect dogs and cats from the bites of this insect and vaccinate them. Today there is also a test that in 8 minutes reveals if our animal has contracted Filariasis and Leishmaniasis.
Symptoms of mosquito-borne diseases
Let's focus on the symptoms of Chikungunya and Dengue since those of Malaria are quite well known.
There Chikungunya it causes high fever, headache, fatigue and, above all, severe joint pain. They may seem like flu symptoms but in some cases there are also sometimes itchy skin manifestations. The transmission of the virus cannot occur by direct contact between person and person but only by mosquito bite. The fever lasts up to a week while the pain can continue for months.
For the dengue we explained that there are two types. The classic one, which is the benign form, shows different symptoms with varying age. Young children have a fever and a rash. Adolescents and adults have symptoms similar to those of the flu with fever, headache, bone and joint and muscle pain, gastrointestinal disorders, with or without skin rashes.
The form of hemorrhagic dengue it manifests itself in a two-phase trend. First there is a fever with inappetence, mild gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders, then comes the phase of greatest weakness, with pallor and cyanotic color, lowering of blood pressure, rapid and weak pulse, skin rashes.