Today’s newspaper mentions a type of mosquito which might become rampant within the next decade. Commonly known as the Asian tiger mosquito, it carries a virus that causes dengue fever, killing 40,000 people globally every year.
Aedes albopictus, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, is a mosquito native to Southeast Asia. It is considered an invasive species and has spread to many parts of the world, including the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Australia. The Asian tiger mosquito is a vector for several diseases, including dengue fever, chikungunya, and the Zika virus. It is easily recognisable by its black and white striped legs and body. The mosquito is active during the day and prefers to bite humans.
What are dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika virus?
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease widespread in tropical and subtropical regions. The dengue virus causes it. Flu-like symptoms, including high fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and rash, characterise dengue fever. In some cases, the disease can progress to a more severe form called dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can be life-threatening.
There is no specific treatment for dengue fever, and supportive care is the mainstay of therapy. That includes rest, hydration, and pain relief. Vaccines for dengue fever are available in some countries. Still, their effectiveness varies depending on the strain of the virus and the age of the person receiving the vaccine.
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by biting infected Aedes mosquitoes. The virus causing chikungunya is a member of the Alphavirus genus, and it was first identified in Tanzania in 1952. The disease is most common in Africa, Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. Still, outbreaks have also occurred in other parts of the world, including the Americas and Europe.
The symptoms of chikungunya usually begin 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. They can include fever, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, swelling, and rash. While most people recover within a week or two, some may experience joint pain for months or years after the initial infection.
There is no specific treatment for chikungunya, and no vaccine is currently available. Treatment usually involves relieving the symptoms with rest, fluids, and medications such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus first discovered in the Zika Forest of Uganda in 1947. Most people infected with the Zika virus do not experience symptoms or may have mild symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. However, the virus can cause severe complications in some cases. The most well-known is the link between Zika virus infection in pregnant women and microcephaly. This congenital disability affects brain development.
The Zika virus has caused outbreaks in various parts of the world, including the Americas, Africa, and Asia. There is currently no specific treatment for Zika virus infection, so the focus is on preventing its spread through mosquito control measures and avoiding mosquito bites.
Signs that an Aedes albopictus mosquito may have bitten you:
Itching: The bite of an Aedes albopictus mosquito can be itchy, and you may experience a raised, red bump at the site of the bite.
Pain: Some people may feel a slight stinging or burning sensation at the site of the bite.
Redness: The skin around the bite may be red and inflamed.
Rash: Occasionally, a rash may develop around the bite site.
Swelling: The area around the bite may become swollen, mainly if you are allergic to mosquito bites.
Suppose an Aedes albopictus mosquito has bitten you. In that case, monitoring your symptoms and watching for signs of illness, such as fever, headache, and muscle pain, which may indicate a mosquito-borne disease, is important. If you develop any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention.
Lastly, control measures for the Asian tiger mosquito involve avoiding mosquito bites using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved clothing, and using mosquito nets. It’s also essential to eliminate breeding sites for mosquitoes by removing standing water around the home.