Health Problems from Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes carry serious diseases such as malaria, dengue, and yellow fever. These diseases spread quickly from one person to the next. Mosquitoes breed in water that does not move (stagnant water), sometimes called “standing water.”

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To prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes:

  • Reduce the risk of being bitten. Use window screens, safe insect repellents,mosquito coils, clothes that cover as much of the body as possible, and insecticide-treated bednets.
  • Control the spread of disease with treatment. Make sure that people getquick and effective treatment, regardless of their ability to pay.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites. Cover household and community watersupplies such as water barrels and cisterns. Create good drainage for taps,wells, and water run-off channels.
  • Prevent new breeding sites through careful land and water management.Rapid changes in land use, such as cutting down too many trees, building dams and diverting rivers, or removing vegetation from large areas of land, all create conditions that allow mosquitoes to breed.

Illnesses carried by mosquitoes spread even more quickly during emergencies such as wars, large movements of people, and natural disasters, when people find it difficult to take ordinary preventive measures.


Malaria on the Trans-Amazon Highway

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For many years, the government of Brazil worked with communities throughout the country to prevent and treat malaria. After years of work, there was no longer much malaria in Brazil. But over time, with changes in land use, and with less health care and health promotion, malaria began to come back.

Wherever the highway went, malaria followed. Many of the people who built the road caught malaria, and many died from it, as did the people who settled along the completed highway. The new settlers suffered greatly because the soil was not rich enough for farming and rains damaged the road, making travel difficult. Poverty and isolation made health problems worse. Once again, malaria became the number one killer in the entire country.


How Mosquitoes Cause Illness

Three serious illnesses carried by mosquitoes are malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever. Each of these illnesses has different signs and is carried by a different kind of mosquito with different breeding habits. But these diseases can be prevented in the same ways because they are all passed from mosquitoes to people.

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Prevent mosquito bites

All mosquito-borne illnesses can be prevented by preventing mosquito bites. To prevent mosquitoes from breeding, see page 149. To reduce the danger of being bitten:

  • Wear clothes that completelycover the arms, legs, head, andneck (long sleeves, pants and skirts, and a head covering).
  • Use mosquito coils and repellentslike citronella, neem oil, or basil leaf. Repellents are especially important for children because they can prevent mosquito bites even when other preventive steps are not taken.
  • Use screens on windows and doors.
  • Use mosquito netting and bed-netstreated with insecticide to prevent bites while you or your children sleep. Tuck the edges of the nets under the bed or sleeping mat so there are no openings. In many places, pregnancy care programs offer bed-nets at low cost or no cost to women and young children. To be effective, bed-nets must be re-treated every 6 to 12 months. Also use a net when sleeping outdoors.



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Malaria is an infection of the blood that causes high fever and chills. It is caused by a parasite (called plasmodium) that is passed to people by a certain kind of mosquito that bites mostly at night. Millions of people die from malaria every year, and many millions more live with the disease. Malaria is especially dangerous to children under 5 years old, pregnant women, and people with HIV. Pregnancy lowers a woman’s ability to fight illness and infection. If she becomes ill with malaria, she may also get

severe anemia (weak blood) which increases the chance of death during or after giving birth. Malaria in pregnancy can also cause her to lose the baby (miscarriage) or cause the baby to be born too soon, too small, or dead (stillbirth).

There are many kinds of malaria. People can live for many years with some kinds of malaria, and most kinds of malaria can be cured. But cerebral malaria (Plasmodium falciparum or P. falciparum) can cause death within 1 or 2 days of being infected. In areas where cerebral malaria exists, it is especially important to seek testing and treatment right away if you suspect you have malaria.

Usually malaria causes fevers every 2 or 3 days, but in the beginning it may cause fever every day. Anyone who suffers from unexplained fevers should have a blood test for malaria. This can be done at most health centers. If the blood test is positive for malaria, or if testing is not available, get treatment right away.


Mosquito Traps

How do QM mosquito traps attract and kill mosquitoes? Mosquitoes are first attracted to a trap by smell. They can smell CO2 around 100 feet from a trap and start to fly towards the source. Next Octenol and Lactic Acid start to be perceived around 50 feet. As the insect continues toward the source, the color, lights and apparent movement in some mosquito traps add more attractants. Mosquitoes can only see about 30 feet.

Finally, as they get within around 3 feet, the mosquitoes are further attracted by the heat and moisture from the CO2 release (if present). They are sucked into the trap by a fan into a container. These are mosquito killer machines from which they cannot escape.

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Why is QM mosquito trap better than the other? The shape, size, color and height of the mosquito machine can make a huge difference. So does the amount of CO2, octenol and/or lactic acid released. Some frequencies of lights work better than others. The way the fans are designed to draw them in makes a big difference. Finally, placement of the devices is very important. A good trap in the wrong location will not be effective. MBOX uses a new and highly effective method to catch mosquitoes. First we have to understand that only female mosquitoes need blood (protein) in order to lay eggs. Female mosquitoes track their victim through CO2 up to a range of 50meters, combined with the sense of smell of H2O, female mosquitoes are very effective in tracking their victim.

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