The anopheles stephensi is accountable for almost 15% of all malaria cases in India. It can be found in urban and rural India. It is also found in Egypt, Iran and China and many places in between.

Indian Mosquitoes and preparing for monsoon season and preventing the spread of disease

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The blood sucking culicidaes are more than a nuisance. They are dangerous when they spread disease. Yep, I’m talking about the Yooper State Bird and the ever-so annoying mosquito. When mosquitoes bite (they feed on the blood of vertebrates like us humans) they pierce the skin and inject saliva containing an anticoagulant and an anesthetic. This is why you don’t feel the bite until after the mosquito has left you!  This is how disease spreads with the mosquito acting as an agent. Indian mosquitoes are especially dangerous in that they are vectors for some dangerous diseases.

Aedes mosquito
The aedes mosquito bites during the day and transmits yellow fever and dengue. Creative Common photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.

Reasons to avoid mosquito in India

Mosquitos in India are especially dangerous in that they spread the following diseases:

  • Yellow fever (not too common in India, but still a potential issue)
  • Malaria
  • Dengue (potentially deadly with no cure, only treatment for symptoms)

Types of Indian Mosquito and the Diseases they Spread

Did you know that different mosquitoes can spread different diseases? For eaxmple the aedes isn’t a malaria agent, but it does spread other viral diseases like yellow fever and dengue.

The Aedes is the mosquito that bites during the day. They usually have black and white stripe markings on their body and legs.

In the US aedes is known to spread the west nile virus.

anopheles mosquito that can spread malaria
The anopheles are a variety of at least 100 different types of mosquitoes. At least 30 of them can spread malaria. Public domain photo by James D. Gathany

Anopheles are the types of mosquitos that spread malaria. Malaria can be deadly. While there are drugs to treat this disease (and some vaccines), none are guaranteed to work, so it is important to avoid mosquitos and to prepare for monsoon by getting rid of areas that are easy for mosquitoes to breed.

Anopheles are found in the West as well. The Anopheles albimanus, for example is found through most of south and central America and can even reproduce in salt water!

In urban India (and also from Egypt, Iran to China) the anopheles stephensi wreaks havoc and causes many cases of malaria. They are also found in rural India, so don’t feel you don’t have to be aware of these if you’re visiting ‘the village.” Also, they can live in salty water, and even can breed in stagnant water left by pots or even old trees. Thus, it is important to know if you’re near an area with water that doesn’t flow.

How to avoid mosquito in India

A lot of what we do to avoid mosquitos can mostly be limited to what you do at your own home. We can also support by not littering and doing your best to ensure those around you are using dustbins “use me” rather than putting plastic bags and other trash that ends up in nullas. Since the nulls are often open, it is important to ensure the water is flowing. If the water isn’t flowing near you, take action. Call your local municipal corporation. Notify your building manager if it is on property near you. Heck, you may even hire someone to clean it. But the first step is prevention. Keep drains clean! Don’t let water sit and become a breeding area for mosquitoes. If you or someone below you has an awning, ensure the water doesn’t collect. If trash collects and goes over the drainage hole, then water will not flow and mosquitoes can breed.

The anopheles stephensi is accountable for almost 15% of all malaria cases in India. It can be found in urban and rural India. It is also found in Egypt, Iran and China and many places in between.
The anopheles stephensi is accountable for almost 15% of all malaria cases in India. It can be found in urban and rural India. It is also found in Egypt, Iran and China and many places in between.

Prepare for monsoon by mosquito-proofing your home

Mosquitoes have a 4 stage life-cycle. The egg, larva, pupa, and adult or imago.

In most species, adult females lay their eggs in stagnant water. Each species selects the situation of the water into which it lays its eggs and does so according to its own ecological adaptations. Some will lay eggs in any water. The aedes is dangerous in that it carries both yellow fever and dengue. This species can easily breed in artificial water containers, such as plastic buckets, flowerpots, water saucers, or a discarded bottle or tire. In India, there is a lot of areas of trash, so when water comes iwth monsoon, there is plenty of places for aedes to breed and multiply.

Prepare for monsoon by getting rid of areas that collect water. If you live in a high rise, check dry areas and tell your neighbors to do the same. Many municipalities will help out by sending out reminder placards, but that isn’t the same as doing the actual work to remove potential places where water can be stagnant.

If you have plants, change the water saucers every 2 to 3 days. This helps prevent water from being stagnant and the egg to changing to larve/pupa and then, of course, adult.

Before monsoon comes it is also a good idea to check your cupboards (and this can be done year round) for places where mosquitos like to hide. Get rid of the mosquitoes.

Install screens on your windows if you can. It may be worth the investment to have the cool breeze without allowing new mosquitos in.

Keep your doors and windows shut during evening hours when non aedes tend to feed.

Buy mosquitoes nets for you to sleep under. They make special ones for babies that fit into Indian-sized cribs and bassinets, but they also can fit ontop of a child, though be aware that there won’t be “rolling” room.

In case you’re interested, here’s a nice little link of various culicinae, because we all love moquitoes, right? :) http://merops.sanger.ac.uk/cgi-bin/gettaxon?level=subfamily&taxon=Culicinae&type=peptidase

CDC Photo of This photograph depicts an Anopheles stephensi mosquito larva. The adult A. stephensi female, is a known vector for the disease malaria.
CDC Photo of This photograph depicts an Anopheles stephensi mosquito larva. The adult A. stephensi female, is a known vector for the disease malaria.

In almost all cases, Female mosquitoes suck our blood (aka take blood meals) to carry out egg production, and such blood meals are the link between the human and the mosquito hosts in the parasite’s life cycle.

What mosquitoes live near you? Do you have any diseases they spread?

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34 comments

  1. Thanks for posting. Lucky for me we don’t have many mosquitoes where I live. The birds keep the population down.

     
  2. Ugh, mosquitoes. The bane of my existence. I absolutely loathe the itching aspect of the after-bite. (At least I live far enough north that West Nile isn’t a concern yet.)

     
  3. I think it is best to avoid mosquitoes anywhere you are, they carry so many illnesses. It is definitely that time of year to make sure there are not any containers around your home that can hold standing water.

     
  4. We have pretty serious mosquito issues where I live. We are always having to empty standing water to keep them from multiplying!

     
  5. Thank goodness I have no plans on traveling to India. Those are truly very scary! Around my area misquitoes carry West Nile Disease. In past years they have actually done spraying in our town.

     
  6. It is so important to keep mosquitoes under control. We have had some cases of West Nile Virus in our area, even some that were fatal. Another thing is they can cause heartworms in our pets…so they need to be protected.

     
  7. Living in Fl we have lots of mosquitos during summer months when we get storms. I am always frighten what they carry.

     
  8. I grew up along the Mississippi River and so was very use to mosquitoes. It was one of the reasons we move away after a couple of bad summers. Now we live where we see an occasional mosquito but it is very rare.

     
  9. One of my co-workers actually was hospitalized with Malaria last year after traveling abroad. He was very sick and it is important to raise awareness about this important health issue.

     
  10. Getting Malaria scares the poop right out of me! I’ve never been to India, but I just know if I ever did go there, that special kind of mosquito would find me. Same goes for West Nile here in the US. Scares me so much!

     
  11. Oh my goodness! This certainly makes me want to stay in the safe confines of Pennsylvania! We do have mosquitoes though, but fortunately, not like in India – but still a concern!

     
  12. Wow, you make our mosquitoes sound tame here! Ours spread west nile virus. It’s figured that a lot of us already have it in Canada, and are now immune. It’s scary! They generally fog in our city though. One year they raised and released a ton of dragon flys into our city, and they took care of the mosquitoes. It was a really nice way to naturally treat the problem, and very cool at night to watch the dragon flys flying around eating the mosquitos! I’m in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada :)

     
  13. I hate mosquito’s!!! I just got bit about 7 times on my face area and eyes. I am allergic to them and swelled up. I take an antihistamine similar to claritin and it didn’t help much! So I have been taking benadryl for the last few days and I am still swollen. I live in an area where there is mosquitos in Oregon. I wish they would kill them somehow. They do carry a lot of diseases. I have a creek near by so it is hard to get rid of them. Thanks for sharing. I can be happy I don’t live in a 3rd world country! I would be dead!!!

     

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