Can Mosquitoes Spread HIV?

Last Updated: 12.12.19

 

Given that mosquito season is just around the corner, a bug salt gun might be just what you need to protect yourself from these cruel insects. Also, if you have the time to check it out, this buying guide is packed with all the info that you need when it comes to selecting quality mosquito zappers.

Because one of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to mosquitoes has to do with their ability to transmit the HIV virus, in this entry we have decided to set things straight. So, if you are interested in this topic, be sure to keep on reading!

 

Can mosquitoes transmit HIV?

According to researchers, each year mosquitoes are responsible for the death of more people than any other insect or animal. However, although they are carriers of numerous dangerous parasites such as malaria, mosquitoes cannot transmit the HIV virus.

Why can’t they spread HIV?

There are a couple of factors that prevent mosquitoes from transmitting this virus. Firstly, we have to talk about the “snout” of a mosquito, or, in other words, its needle-like mouth. The snout of an insect of this kind is made up of six distinct parts. Four of the pieces have the role of piercing the skin of the victim. The other two, are made up of two tubes, one that pumps saliva into the host, and one that carries the blood into the organism of the insect.

Because of its dual structure, the last part of the snout makes it impossible for a mosquito to infect other people with HIV-infected blood.

What is more, once the HIV-positive blood reaches the gut of a mosquito, the virus cannot replicate as these insects do not have T cells. So, once it reaches the digestive system, the virus is broken down and it cannot migrate to the salivary glands of the insect. During the digestion, the particles of the HIV virus are completely destroyed.

Another reason why it is impossible for mosquitoes to transmit the HIV virus has to do with its low circulation level within the blood of the host. As the specialists have remarked, the HIV virus circulates in the human body at considerably low levels. The quantity of blood a mosquito takes from a host is considerably small and it not enough for infestation.

It has been estimated that it would take around ten million mosquito bites for the virus to be transmitted to a single person. What is more, if you happen to accidentally swallow a mosquito that has bitten an HIV positive person, you are also safe, as the quantity of infected blood is considerably small.

 

In what conditions can the HIV virus be transmitted?

For the HIV virus to be transmitted, there is a specific set of conditions that have to be fulfilled. If any of these conditions are not entirely satisfied, the likelihood of transmission is negligible.

First, it’s vital that there is a bodily fluid such as blood, breast milk or semen in which HIV can thrive. The virus cannot live in one’s saliva, sweat, feces or urine.

Secondly, it is important that there exists a route through which the virus can enter one’s body. This route can be through direct blood-to-blood transmission, or through mucosal tissues that are vulnerable.

Thirdly, there has to be a considerable amount of blood transmitted for a positive infection to occur. This is the reason why a person with a low viral load has lower risks of infecting others. The viral load of an HIV positive person expresses the concentration of the virus in one’s blood.

A person that has a low viral load is not free of HIV. This is only an indication that the virus population has dropped below standard testing levels. Only 5 percent of the HIV virus can be found in one’s blood.

How can I protect myself from mosquitoes?

Although they cannot transmit the HIV virus, mosquitoes are still a nuisance and they have been linked to the transmission of other diseases such as malaria or the dengue fever. Because of this, it is crucial that you protect yourself from these insects in an appropriate manner.

If you are a fan of natural products, you can use citronella, peppermint and lavender oils by rubbing them into your skin. Some other plants that mosquitoes are not fans of are marigolds, basil, catnip, and lemons. Moreover, you can keep yourself safe by eating garlic, as some argue that it can also do the trick.

Some also recommend that one takes B1 supplements regularly. It seems like this vitamin can make us give off a certain smell that is imperceptible to us, but which can effectively repel mosquitoes and other similar insects.

If you are the type of person that prefers a more severe approach, and you are not against the use of chemicals, you can purchase a spray that was created for the task. There are two types of insect repellents that you can opt for, those that include DEET (or diethylmetatoluamide) and those products that do not.

DEET is an active ingredient that comes in the form of a yellow-colored oil. It can be applied directly to the skin and it is generally recommended by the specialists. Although this choice is not entirely safe – there have been people who have had allergic reactions to it – the DEET-based sprays are considered the best repellents invented.

 

How long do repellents last?

Another important question that you should know the answer to before taking a stroll in the evening has to do with the effectiveness of the product that you are using to repel mosquitoes. Most sprays available that you can use for the job remain active for around eight hours.

Still, active people such as those that hike or do physical work throughout the day are advised to re-apply the product for maximum protection.

Choose the right clothes

Those who love to travel on a regular basis should also consider acquiring insect-proof clothing. Numerous manufacturers have also created items of clothing of this sort that are comfortable to wear in hot climates, which is a plus according to most users.

To avoid being bitten by insects at night, it is also recommended that you wear light colored clothes. It has been noted that mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors such as black and blue. However, you should not opt for bright white clothes as they can make you easy to spot by mosquitoes.

Furthermore, it is best that you refrain from wearing heavy doses of floral perfumes and scents. Because mosquitoes also feed on nectar from flowers, you will risk attracting more bugs than you want.

If you have been bitten, it is important that you refrain from scratching yourself, as this will only make things worse. Instead, wash the bite gently and cover it with a calamine cream or lotion. Applying ice on the bite mark might also help reduce the general discomfort. The sign of the bite will go away in a matter of days.

In case you are experiencing allergy-like symptoms after you have been bitten, it is highly recommended that you seek immediate medical attention, as your life might be in serious danger.

 

 

 

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