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Why malaria and dengue cases rise during summer? Know everything about skeeters and how to stay safe

Understanding why mosquito-borne diseases rise in summer and taking preventive measures, you can significantly reduce your risk of getting infected. Remember, a little vigilance goes a long way in keeping you and your loved ones safe from these potentially serious illnesses.

Rahul Pratyush Written By: Rahul Pratyush New Delhi Published on: April 25, 2024 17:40 IST
Mosquito bite
Image Source : FREEPIK Know why malaria and dengue cases rise during summer

During summer, people enjoy sunshine and vacations, but unfortunately, mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue also tend to increase during this season. Leaving the door's mesh open can result in mosquitoes entering the entire house, and even a small hole in the mosquito net can lead to mosquito attacks. Many households resort to applying mosquito repellent cream or using nets to keep mosquitoes away, but why are these insects causing problems everywhere? What causes their population to increase? How do they spread diseases, and which type of mosquito is the most dangerous? Keep reading to learn more about mosquitoes and how to stay safe from them.

Mosquito mania during summers:

Warm weather provides ideal conditions for mosquitoes to thrive. Increased temperatures accelerate their life cycle, allowing them to breed more frequently. Stagnant water left behind by summer showers or stored improperly becomes a breeding ground for mosquito larvae. These factors combine to lead to a surge in the mosquito population.

Our summer habits can also contribute to the rise in mosquito-borne diseases. We spend more time outdoors, exposing ourselves to mosquito bites.  Additionally, due to the heat, people tend to store water in containers around their homes, unknowingly creating breeding grounds right under their noses.

Why do mosquitoes bite?

Mosquitoes bite for one reason, blood meals! Female mosquitoes need protein to lay eggs. They use special mouthparts to pierce the skin, suck blood, and inject saliva (which causes the itch). Males don't bite, they just sip nectar.

Types of mosquitoes:

  • There are over 3,000 identified species of mosquitoes around the world, each with slight variations in appearance, behaviour, and the diseases they can transmit.
  • Only 100 species of mosquitoes bite humans.
  • Mosquitoes can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including wetlands, forests, deserts, and even urban areas.  The type of mosquito species will depend on the habitat they thrive in.
  • There are some species of mosquitoes that are actually predatory, feeding on other insects and worms.  These types of mosquitoes can help control pest populations.
  • Mosquitoes go through four distinct life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.  The entire lifecycle can take as little as a week, depending on the species and climate.

Which mosquito is most dangerous?

There isn't one single "most dangerous" mosquito, but rather several different mosquito species that transmit a variety of serious diseases. Here's a breakdown of some of the most concerning ones:

Anopheles mosquitoes: These are the primary carriers of malaria, a potentially deadly disease that particularly affects young children.  Malaria is a major health concern in tropical and subtropical regions.

Aedes mosquitoes: This group includes species that transmit diseases like dengue fever, chikungunya, and Zika virus. Dengue fever can be deadly, and Zika can cause serious birth defects.  Aedes mosquitoes are found in many parts of the world, including tropical, subtropical, and temperate zones.

Culex mosquitoes: While not all Culex species transmit diseases to humans, some can carry West Nile virus, which can cause flu-like symptoms and even encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Culex mosquitoes have a wider range than Aedes or Anopheles and can be found in many temperate and tropical regions.

Staying safe from skeeter threats:

Here's how you can protect yourself and your family from mosquito-borne diseases:

Minimise mosquito breeding sites: Eliminate stagnant water around your home. Empty and clean coolers, old tyres, and any containers that can collect water.

Embrace protective clothing: Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, especially during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

Repellency is key: Apply mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to the product label's instructions.

Screen it up: Install and maintain screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquito entry.

Sleep securely: Use mosquito nets while sleeping, especially when travelling to high-risk areas.

ALSO READ: World Malaria Day 2024: Identify 5 factors that elevate malaria risk

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