A vector-borne disease is, simply put, a disease that is transferred by one blood-feeding organism to other animals and humans. Diseases can be transferred by insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas.
West Nile fever
Individuals infected with the West Nile virus usually display no symptoms. However, people who develop symptoms usually experience fever, headache, body pains, and rashes. People who get fever recover completely, but some may still experience fatigue that can last up to months.
In severe cases, individuals who get infected with the virus develop inflammation of the brain or encephalitis and meningitis, another disease of the central nervous system. There’s no treatment yet for this virus, but several over-the-counter medications can be taken to alleviate its symptoms. However, in severe cases, individuals may require hospitalization.
Dengue’s main vector is the yellow fever mosquito, also known as Aedes aegypti. Like West Nile fever, there is a specific cure for dengue, but early detection is necessary to manage its symptoms. Most prominent in Asian and Latin American countries, dengue is common in tropical and subtropical areas and urban communities.
Individuals suspected of having dengue usually have a high fever that reaches up to 40°C/104°F, accompanied by any of the following symptoms: severe headache, muscle and joint pains, nausea and vomiting, and rashes.
The virus for Chikungunya fever may also be carried by the same mosquito that carries dengue. In August 2007, a confirmed outbreak of the disease happened in Italy.
An individual bitten by a mosquito infected with the Chikungunya virus will experience the symptoms 4-8 days later. An infected person will usually experience fever and joint pain that can last from weeks to years. Included in the symptoms are headaches, rashes, joint pains, and fatigue.
As these symptoms are similar to other vector-borne diseases, Chikungunya is often misdiagnosed. However, Chikungunya is less life-threatening than dengue. Infected individuals usually fully recover from the disease and are likely to be immune from the disease in the future.
Like West Nile fever and dengue, there is no treatment available for the disease. However, antipyretics, analgesics, rest, and plenty of fluids may help ease the symptoms associated with the disease.
Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is transmitted by ticks. Symptoms of the disease include anorexia, fever, nausea, and body pains. Some patients may even experience symptoms of meningitis and encephalitis or meningoencephalitis. Like other diseases caused by a virus, there is no treatment for the disease. Those with severe symptoms may need to seek professional help and hospitalization.
Lyme Borreliosis is an infection caused by hard ticks from the genus Ixodes; it is the most common vector-borne disease in the US. Its symptoms include fatigue, headache, fever, as well as skin irritation called erythema migrans. It can affect the nervous and circulatory system if left untreated. Usually, Lyme disease can be cured through the use of antibiotics.
Prevention of vector-borne diseases
To prevent the spread of these diseases, having mosquito and tick control services is necessary at home. In addition, here are the precautions shared by the World Health Organization against mosquitoes:
- Empty containers with water that can serve are breeding sites for mosquitoes.
- If containers cannot be emptied, contact local authorities to help and apply safe chemicals to the site.
- Wear proper clothing to minimize mosquito contact on the skin.
- Apply mosquito repellents.
- Use mosquito nets when sleeping in areas that are infested with mosquitoes.
- Use insecticides and aerosol products that will reduce the presence of mosquitoes in the area.
In addition, it will be wise to use fans that can help shoo away flying insects like mosquitoes. These simple steps can save you the hassle of dealing with diseases later on.
To prevent tick-borne diseases, beware of wooded and grassy areas. Ticks do not fly, but they usually stay on the tip of the grass until they find something to be in contact with. Therefore, when walking in grassy areas, it is best to check if elements are present on your legs.
In addition, it will be a good idea to wear long pants and sleeves when going to woody areas. Wearing bright-colored clothing may also help you easily detect a tick that you came into contact with. Make sure to remove these clothes when going back home to prevent ticks from entering the house.
Cutting your lawn regularly will also ensure that ticks do not stay in your backyard. This will be beneficial for children who usually run around and play on the lawn.
One should always be on the lookout for threats against their health; vector-borne diseases are just some of them. Ensure that you stay healthy and fit to prevent sicknesses from occurring.