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Do Mosquitoes Carry Lyme Disease?

Last Updated: 26.09.20

 

Mosquitoes are known for their bites and the various diseases they can transmit. Using effective repellents as the ones showcased in our latest article is thus compulsory. While it has been scientifically proved that they carry and transmit various viruses, things are less disheartening when it comes to the possibility of getting Lyme disease if bitten by such an insect.

Summer outdoor activities can easily be spoiled by the buzzing mosquitoes. The noise they make is the smallest discomfort they cause, though. Their bites are the ones that make us look for ways to repel them. Redness and swelling are the first bite signs you get to experience yet the damage and problems they can cause are far more serious than that. 

Mosquitoes carry various diseases that can cause both light and severe symptoms. Not to mention that some of these diseases can be fatal. If you find yourself in areas where mosquitoes live in great numbers quite often and you want to know more about the diseases they can transmit, this post might be of help. 

 

Diseases mosquitoes carry and transmit

Beyond the little discomfort one feels immediately after being bitten by a mosquito, there are serious health problems that mosquitoes can cause. They are some of the most dangerous disease-carriers in the world causing millions of deaths every year. 

More than half of the population on our planet lives in areas where mosquitoes are present, so the risk of getting bitten is quite high if you don’t take precautionary measures. To understand the danger and health risks mosquitoes pose, here is a list of some of the most important and severe diseases and infections they carry and transmit. 

Mosquitoes are often associated with malaria since this is the oldest illness transmitted by them. Malaria has flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, diarrhea, and vomiting. In some cases, it can lead to serious complications and even death. It is estimated that malaria is causing more than 400,000 deaths every year.

There are preventive medicines you can take to protect against malaria, though, and researchers direct their efforts and knowledge toward creating a vaccine to provide protection against this health condition. 

Yellow fever is also part of the health problems caused by mosquito bites. Thanks to the latest achievements in the field of medicine, though, it is now highly unlikely to get it since there is a vaccine available to protect against it. Those who do get yellow fever may not even notice any symptoms. 

If, however, symptoms occur, they include mild flu-like symptoms such as weakness and tiredness that can be treated with medicines, rest, and fluids. In more unfortunate cases, they can develop into severe symptoms such as jaundice, bleeding, and high fever. In rare cases, this condition can affect your liver and kidneys and be fatal. 

Dengue fever is a viral disease transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. The most common symptoms include fever and nose or gum bleeding. Sometimes, though, this condition can get more severe and trigger a hemorrhagic fever. While mild symptoms can be treated with rest, in hemorrhagic cases, urgent medical care is needed. 

Mosquitoes also carry the Chikungunya virus, which affects the joints primarily and thus causes severe joint pain. These symptoms can last for several weeks. Rest and lots of fluids are required. If the pain is too severe, pain-relief medicines may also be part of the treatment the patient gets. 

The West Nile virus is another virus mosquitoes can transmit. When infected with it, humans have flu-like symptoms such as fever but even these symptoms may fail to appear in many cases. In rare cases, the symptoms can get more severe and the infection can cause meningitis or brain swelling, encephalitis, or meningoencephalitis. 

Mosquitoes are also known for passing on viruses that cause inflammation around the spinal cord and brain. Severe symptoms include seizures, confusion, muscle weakness, and brain damage. There are variations of these symptoms and they depend on where you are. 

As far as prevention is regarded, you can get shots to protect against the Japanese encephalitis, for example. Make sure you get them before traveling to that area, though. Zika virus is another virus mosquitoes can transmit. Symptoms of infection with this virus include fever, rash, muscle pain, and pinkeye. 

Recent studies link this viral infection to more severe health problems including the Guillain-Barre syndrome and microcephaly, a birth defect that prevents a baby’s head from developing fully. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent the Zika virus infection. 

 

 

Mosquitoes and Lyme disease

Given the many diseases mosquitoes carry and transmit, many of us automatically think of other diseases that are usually transmitted by insects. Lyme disease is one of them. While ticks are more often associated with this health problem, it may be a bit difficult not to make it part of the health risks one is exposed to when being bitten by a mosquito. 

Lice, mosquitoes, and other insects digest meals differently than ticks. Insects other than ticks have a different acidity. Plus, they use certain enzymes to digest their meal, which creates an environment that is hostile to the spirochetes that cause Lyme disease. These spirochetes are thus killed in the midgut. 

However, several studies have noticed the presence of Lyme spirochetes in mosquitoes and many of them found out that 1-3% of the mosquitoes that were part of the study did indeed carry the Lyme spirochete. Even so, studies showed that mosquitoes were unable to transmit the Lyme spirochete to vertebrate hosts. 

First of all, mosquitoes are unlikely to ingest many Lyme spirochetes. Secondly, mosquitoes are attached to the human body for a very short time, just to feed. The time they spend on the human body is thus too short to make it possible for these spirochetes to be transmitted. 

Thirdly, the feeding mechanism of a mosquito is different than the one of ticks. While ticks destroy the skin to get their feed and thus facilitate the transmission of Lyme spirochetes, mosquitoes cannulate dermal capillaries and feed on vessels. They hardly take blood from the interstitial tissue. All that makes the Lyme spirochete transmission highly unlikely to occur. 

 

 

How to avoid mosquito bites

Considering the health risks a mosquito bite involves, it is always best to avoid them and their bites as much as possible. Before traveling to an area where mosquitoes live in high numbers, see your doctor and get vaccinated if possible or take preventive medicines to help you with that. If you’re pregnant, it’s best that you do not expose yourself in any way to such dangers and postpone your travel. 

In case you don’t intend to travel yet you’re worried about the mosquitoes in your area, you can use a variety of products to repel them. The market is quite generous when it comes to mosquito repellents and it shouldn’t be difficult for you to find a product to meet your needs. 

You will find solutions for both indoor and outdoor use, from foggers that can treat a greater area to easy-to-use sprays you can employ inside your house without affecting your health or your pets. 

If you want a highly convenient mosquito repellent, you can simply opt for tablets or liquid repellents that are used with electric devices. Such units are plugged in to create vapors that will keep mosquitoes away. 

If you plan to camp and mosquitoes are known to be a problem in that area, you might want to try a portable fogger. Plus, there are repellents that can be directly applied to your skin. They should be reapplied, though, in case they get washed off. 

Another prevention method that requires no money or no great effort is to simply avoid places where mosquitoes live or wear long sleeves and long pants. 

 

 

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