Viruses Carried by Ticks and Mosquitoes and Their Consequences

Author: Alexander Salerno, MD
December 27, 2019

Mosquitoes and ticks have been a pesky problem for a long time, but the alarming news reports that diseases caused because of them have tripled from 2004 to 2016 in the US alone have highlighted the menace caused by them. This further indicates that it is time to deal with the issue head-on after gaining the requisite information.

Mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas spread diseases by being the carriers of various viruses. Infected ticks and mosquitoes bite various individuals, thus acting as vectors and spreading diseases. A steady rise has been seen in the number of cases of diseases caused by the viruses the mosquitoes and ticks carry owing to the increase in the number of ticks and mosquitoes as well as because they have now spread to a wider geographical area, thus infecting a greater number of people.

Types of viruses and diseases caused by the carrier mosquitoes and ticks
Viruses being carried by ticks and mosquitoes give rise to diseases, such as chikungunya, yellow fever, dengue, etc.

Chikungunya is caused by the Alphavirus and is transmitted to humans via the Aedes genus mosquito. This disease can often be confused with other diseases, and though its progression is favorable, in certain cases it can result in the death of patients. The best way to prevent this disease is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, since a vaccine is not yet available for the disease.

Dengue is caused by the Flavivirus and is transmitted by the mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, which usually breed in stagnant waters close to various habitations. The disease has recently seen a resurgence, as it has spread to a large part of the world.

Japanese encephalitis is another disease caused by the Flavivirus and transmitted via mosquitoes of the Culex genus. This disease is endemic in rural areas with rice fields and irrigation regions.

West Nile disease, also caused by Flavivirus, is spread via the Culex genus mosquito that thrives around birds.

Yellow fever is caused by yellow fever virus (part of the Flavivirus family) and is transmitted via Aedes genus mosquitoes.

Ticks cause diseases, such as Lyme, meningoencephalitis, and tick-borne relapsing and spotted fevers, most of which are due to various bacteria strains.

Measures to prevent the diseases caused by virus-carrying mosquitoes and ticks
Public health authorities can undertake serious health programs by listing the diseases caused in the area by the viruses and the mosquitoes and ticks that transmit them; undertaking vector control and prevention activities by developing a team; and educating the residents about the same. As citizens, individuals can also make use of repellents to deal with mosquitoes. They can wear covered, long-sleeved clothing as a form of prevention, and also avoid as well as treat ticks that might trouble their pets and which can spread in the house. They must also take care of the home and its surroundings to prevent infestation of mosquitoes and ticks. Items such as boots, pants, tents, and socks can also become infected, and must be treated by using permethrin.

Safety measures and knowledge regarding the diseases caused by viruses and carried by ticks and mosquitoes can help curb the rise in the number of cases.

About Alexander Salerno, MD

Salerno Medical Associates medical practice & founder of Urban Healthcare Initiative Program (UHIP) and Community Healthcare Outreach Program (CHOP) SalernoMedical.com UHIPNJ.org CHOPHealth.com