This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Friday, August 19, 2016

World Mosquito Day--Ouch, That Bites!

The 20th of August is World Mosquito Day, in case you didn't already know that. Mosquitos need their day, so that we can find them and get them out of our midst. Not every mosquito spreads disease when it bites you after biting a sick person, but enough do to make us leery of them all. Given the death toll from malaria over the course of human history it is actually remarkable that we didn't know how it was spread until 1897--scarcely more than 100 years ago--when Sir Ronald Ross figured out that the female anopheles mosquito was the culprit. Keep in mind that the name "malaria" comes from the Italian for "bad air" referring to the knowledge that people got malaria in swampy places where the air smelled bad. But it isn't the air that gets you...
Mosquitoes kill nearly three-quarters of a million people each year worldwide and sicken millions more. Malaria by itself is responsible for more than half of mosquito-related deaths, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa. Mosquitoes also transmit dengue, lymphatic filariasis, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis, and yellow fever, among other diseases.
In fact, only 3 out 3,500 mosquitos species transmit disease to humans, but they manage to do a lot of damage:
1. Anopheles mosquitoes are the only species known to carry human malaria. They also transmit filariasis and encephalitis.
2. Culex mosquitoes carry encephalitis, filariasis, and the West Nile virus.
3. Aedes mosquitoes, of which the voracious Asian tiger is a member, carry yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika.
Obviously, the Zika outbreak in the western hemisphere has heightened the current interest in mosquito eradication, but as evidenced by the above quote from the President's Malaria Initiative, malaria is still the biggest reason for a human to fear the sight or sound of a mosquito.

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