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.
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)
- 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 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.
Prepare for monsoon by mosquito-proofing your home
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
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?