Gallery D

Out Of The Tropics

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Mosquito Bites Getting Deadly

By James Donahue

It was bad enough when mosquito bites in the U.S. began passing on the West Nile Virus about a decade ago. But with the warming temperatures, the breed of mosquito that carries other tropical type diseases is working north.
Now that mosquito, known as Aedes aegypti, is threatening us with dengue fever and another painful virus known as chikungunya.

Cases of dengue fever have been reported in Florida and Texas in recent years and the first cases of chikungunya were reported in Florida this year. The two diseases are similar in that they cause extreme joint and body pain and can lead to death.
Yet another deadly mosquito-borne virus, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has been discovered in Massachusetts. An elderly woman died from the disease in 2012 and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health says the virus has been found this month in mosquitoes collected in Plymouth County.
People who live in areas east of the Mississippi River, that experience plenty of rainfall and enjoy lots of green vegetation, streams and ponds with standing water, know the annoyance of summer invasions of mosquito swarms. The bites are usually always red and itchy for an hour or longer, but then they go away.
That is, unless the mosquito was carrying one of the many viruses that mosquitoes are known to host.

Other serious viral diseases carried by mosquitoes, but not yet introduced to the United States, include yellow fever, malaria, Rift Valley fever, Ross River Fever, and St. Louis encephalitis.
There is a species of mosquito found in Africa that also carries the filariasis worm. This is a parasite that causes elephantiasis, a disabling disease that causes a great swelling of parts of the body.

Indeed, if the mythological story of Noah’s Ark bears any truth to it, we have to wonder why Noah allowed those two mosquitoes on the boat.