Mosquito-borne illnesseshave devastating effects on the human population. Many deaths take place due to severe dengue that rapidly becomes fatal after just couple days of symptoms. An unattended fever, an all-too-late hospital visit, a tragic death can be caused by dengue. The recent discovery of links between the mosquito-borne Zika virus and microcephaly has cast new attention on the dreaded mosquito.
What are we doing to slow the assault of these buzzing monsters? Perhaps we need to extend the approach to a more global level with “The Ultimate Swat”.
Reasons for “The Ultimate Swat”:
- Mosquitoes kill people: They kill somewhere between 300,000 and one million people every year. Need I say more? The bites of these little creatures have been truly devastating. Roughly half the world’s population live in places with high risks for mosquito-borne illnesses.
- Mosquito-borne illnesses rack up sick day: Many people get these diseases, suffer through them, and recover. Every one of dengue cases requires medical visits or days/weeks of rest, which means missed days of work or study.
- Mosquitos divert billions of rupees in resources: Dengue is more prevalent in underdeveloped tropical countries, so the strain on their underfunded health care systems in dealing with millions of cases of mosquito-borne illnesses every year is staggering.
Reasons to Save the Mosquitoes!
- Don’t swat the messenger: It’s not the mosquitoes that are killing a million people per year. It’s the diseases that they carry. And in fact, very few types of mosquitoes actually present a risk to humans. It is only the females that draw blood, to develop and feed the 200 or so eggs that they lay at a time. They only pass deadly diseases like dengue and malaria when they draw blood from a host already carrying the dengue disease and then bite someone else. Mosquitoes are basically just the transportation. Is it fair to swat the messenger?
- Mosquitoes hold a place in the food chain: Eliminate the diseases themselves: Zika, dengue, malaria, yellow fever. But eliminating the creature that transmits all these diseases between humans might be more effective than any attempts to eliminate them individually. Mosquitoes serve more ecological purposes than transmitting diseases, and these need to be considered. Ecosystems are sensitive places, and the elimination of a species would surely cause disruptions. Most mosquitoes prefer the taste of flowers to human blood, so removing mosquitoes would eliminate a pollinator for many, many plants.
Attempts to eliminate mosquitoes have been unsuccessful. Fogging or fumigation is often used to curb mosquito populations during outbreaks, and while useful, it only kills adult mosquitoes, leaving larvae undisturbed. Scientists who are pondering the idea of “The Ultimate Swat” need to be more creative in their techniques.
And let’s not underestimate the impact that basic prevention methods like mosquito nets have had in reducing the total infections and fatalities of mosquito-borne illnesses on a global scale. Thus the question should not be: to kill or not to kill. Not only do we lack the “right” to extinguish an entire species — we have a responsibility to care for creation: from tropical rainforests all the way to the pesky mosquito. Until then, I’ll just have to take on the pests lurking downstairs by myself, a single swat at a time; along with Dengue Insurance.
Much is being done, and much more can be done to make the world a safer place even with mosquitoes.- DHFL Pramerica- Dengue Shield