World Mosquito Day

World Mosquito Day is observed annually on August 20th to raise awareness about the threat that mosquitoes pose and the diseases they can transmit. This international day was established in 1897 to commemorate the discovery that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans.

World Mosquito Day

History of World Mosquito Day

The first World Mosquito Day was celebrated in 1897 in London, England. This was the date when British doctor Sir Ronald Ross announced his discovery that female Anopheles mosquitoes transmit malaria parasites to humans. At the time, malaria was a major public health problem that affected millions of people. Ross’ discovery proved that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, not through poor hygiene or filthy conditions as was commonly believed. His revolutionary finding laid the foundation for future malaria control efforts.

To honor this medical breakthrough, the international community decided to designate August 20th as World Mosquito Day. The annual observance serves as a reminder of the ongoing threat posed by mosquito-borne illnesses. It also promotes education, research and collaboration to help control mosquito populations.

 

Goal of World Mosquito Day

The goal of World Mosquito Day is to raise global awareness about the prevalence of mosquito-borne diseases. The day aims to educate people about:

  • The health risks caused by mosquitoes
  • Prevention methods to avoid mosquito bites
  • Control strategies to monitor and reduce mosquito populations
  • Developing effective treatments and vaccines
  • Improving international cooperation against insect-transmitted diseases
  • Bringing attention to these issues on World Mosquito Day encourages greater political action, funding of research, and community participation in mosquito control programs.

Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Mosquitoes spread several dangerous infectious diseases that pose major health risks. Key illnesses transmitted by mosquitoes include:

Malaria

Malaria is one of the world’s deadliest diseases. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, nausea and vomiting. Left untreated, severe malaria can cause organ failure, coma and death. In 2019, there were about 229 million cases and 409,000 malaria deaths worldwide.

Dengue

Dengue causes flu-like symptoms that can develop into severe dengue or dengue hemorrhagic fever. The global incidence of dengue has increased dramatically in recent decades. About 96 million cases and 20,000 deaths occur annually.

Zika Virus

Zika causes mild symptoms in adults but can trigger severe birth defects if pregnant women are infected. The main symptoms are rash, joint pain and fever. Major outbreaks occurred in the Americas in 2015-2016.

West Nile Virus

West Nile causes neurological symptoms that can be mild or severe. About 1 in 5 infected people develop a fever and other symptoms. Approximately 1 in 150 cases lead to serious neurological illness like encephalitis or meningitis.

Yellow Fever

Yellow fever creates symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting and jaundice. About 15% of cases progress to a toxic phase leading to internal bleeding, organ failure and shock. Up to 50% of severe cases are fatal.

Chikungunya

Chikungunya triggers severe joint pain, rash, headache, muscle pain and fever. Pain often persists for months or years after the initial infection. Outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

World Mosquito Day

Preventing Mosquito Bites

Preventing mosquito bites is the first line of defense against mosquito-borne diseases. Recommended precautions include:

Eliminate Standing Water

Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Eliminate sources of stagnant water around homes by emptying flower pots, pet dishes, bird baths, buckets, and trash containers. Ensure proper drainage of air conditioners, gutters and unused pools.

Use Insect Repellent

Apply EPA-registered insect repellent when outdoors. Products containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus provide the most protection. Reapply as directed.

Wear Protective Clothing

When outside, wear loose long sleeves, long pants and socks. Mosquitoes can bite through thin fabric, so spraying clothes with repellent provides extra protection.

Use Mosquito Nets

Sleep under mosquito bed nets, especially during travel in tropical areas. Choose nets treated with insecticide for maximum effectiveness.

Limit Outdoor Activity

Avoid spending time outside at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. Be extra vigilant after rain showers or near standing water sources.

Treating Mosquito Bites

To alleviate discomfort from mosquito bites:

Clean the Bite Area

Wash the bite with soap and water to reduce risk of infection. Apply antibiotic ointment to prevent scratching and scarring.

Apply Ice

Place an ice pack or cold compress on the bite area to ease swelling and itching. The cold temperature helps slow the spread of irritants injected by the mosquito.

Use Anti-Itch Creams

Over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams containing 1% can relieve itching. Creams with pramoxine provide a topical anesthetic effect.

Take Antihistamines

Oral antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and loratadine (Claritin) block the body’s histamine response that causes itching.

See a Doctor if Symptoms Worsen

Monitor bites for signs of infection like worsening redness, swelling or heat. Seek medical treatment promptly if you develop fever, headache, body aches or other concerning symptoms.

Mosquito Control Methods

Strategies used by public health authorities to control mosquito populations include:

Draining Wet Areas

Eliminate standing water breeding sites by draining ponds, wetlands, ditches, and swampy zones whenever feasible.

Applying Larvicides

Use chemical larvicides that kill mosquitoes during larval development before they mature into flying adults.

Releasing Sterile Insects

Release genetically modified or irradiated sterile male mosquitoes that mate with females but prevent reproduction.

Setting Traps

Deploy mosquito traps that use light, carbon dioxide, heat, chemicals or other attractants. Traps can capture large numbers of mosquitoes.

Spraying Insecticides

Apply EPA-approved insecticide sprays that kill adult mosquito populations through aerial spraying or truck-mounted ground spraying.

How to celebrate World Mosquito Day

Here are some ideas for how to observe World Mosquito Day:

  • Learn about mosquitoes and the diseases they can transmit. Educate yourself on the global health threats caused by mosquitoes.
  • Attend a free seminar or webinar offered by health organizations discussing mosquito-borne illnesses and latest control strategies. Many events are held on or around August 20th.
  • Eliminate standing water sources around your home and neighborhood. Look for and drain any puddles, buckets, old tires, clogged gutters, etc where mosquitoes breed.
  • Volunteer for community mosquito control efforts such as litter cleanups, wetland drainage projects, or handing out repellents and bed nets.
  • Make a donation to a nonprofit that works on mosquito education and disease prevention internationally. Key groups include Malaria No More, Nothing But Nets, and the Gates Foundation.
  • Purchase and use EPA-registered insect repellents when spending time outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear lightweight long sleeves and pants while outdoors to protect your skin from bites. Spray thin clothing with repellent.
  • Check window and door screens for holes that need repairing to keep mosquitoes outside. Use mosquito netting over beds if camping or sleeping outdoors.
  • Share World Mosquito Day facts and prevention tips on social media to spread awareness. Use the hashtag #WorldMosquitoDay.
  • Advocate for increased political efforts and funding for mosquito control programs and development of vaccines. Mosquitoes remain a major global health challenge needing attention.

 

World Mosquito Day facts

Here are some key facts about World Mosquito Day:-

  • World Mosquito Day is observed annually on August 20.
  • The day commemorates the discovery in 1897 that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans.
  • British doctor Sir Ronald Ross made this groundbreaking discovery about mosquito-borne malaria transmission.
  • The first World Mosquito Day celebration occurred in London in 1897 on the date of Ross’ discovery.
  • Mosquitoes transmit several deadly diseases including malaria, dengue, Zika, West Nile virus, yellow fever and chikungunya.
  • Malaria alone caused over 400,000 deaths globally in 2019, mostly in young children.
  • Mosquito-borne illnesses cause over 1 million deaths worldwide each year.
  • Mosquitoes need standing water to breed and just a bottle cap of water can be enough.
  • Female mosquitoes bite humans to obtain blood to develop their eggs. Males feed on plant nectar.
  • Only female mosquitoes bite and spread diseases. Male mosquitoes do not bite people.
  • Mosquito bites can be prevented by eliminating standing water, using repellents, wearing protective clothing, spraying insecticides, etc.
  • Mosquito awareness and control efforts help prevent outbreaks of dangerous mosquito-borne diseases.
  • World Mosquito Day promotes continued research, funding and collaboration to control mosquitoes and the illnesses they spread.