Outbreaks

Mosquitoes and the diseases they carry: What is your risk of infection?

An Anopheles stephensi mosquito obtains a blood meal from a human host through its pointed proboscis in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters November 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Jim Gathany/CDC/Handout via Reuters

An Anopheles stephensi mosquito obtains a blood meal from a human host through its pointed proboscis in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Gathany/CDC/Handout via Reuters  (Copyright Reuters 2015)

The association between human disease and mosquito bites was suspected for millennia. The symptoms of malaria are described in an Indian Sanskrit text titled Susruta Samhita dating from around 600 BCE. The text attributes the source of infection to the bites of insects. A scientifically-based association between mosquitoes and human disease was proposed in 1881 by Carlos Finlay, who worked with the yellow fever virus in Cuba. The association was conclusively confirmed in 1897 by the Scottish physician Sir Ronald Ross, who described the complete life cycle of avian malaria in India.

Mosquito-borne disease has played an important role in U.S. history. Yellow fever epidemics decimated port cities from Boston to Pensacola between 1668 and 1905. Building on Finlay’s work, the physician Colonel William Gorgas designed a mosquito control program targeting Aedes aegypti, the species known to transmit the yellow fever virus. Gorgas was appointed as the chief sanitation officer for the U.S. Panama Canal construction project in 1904 after the U.S. purchased the project from the French in 1903. It is generally believed that the failure of the French canal project (1881 to 1894) was due in part to mosquito-borne disease. Under Gorgas’ leadership mosquito-borne diseases (mainly malaria and yellow fever) were virtually eliminated from the construction zone by 1906, allowing the successful completion of the U.S. Panama Canal project (1904–1914).  


Source: Fix.com Blog