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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Zika, Dengue And The Mosquito

Zika and dengue transmission.

zdI think by now, most people have heard about these 2 viruses; zika and dengue. These viruses have their origin on the African continent, and were originally only transmitted by mosquitoes. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito is the most important culprit, but the viruses have adapted, and they are currently transmitted by a wide variety of day-active mosquitoes.

Over the last 10 years, both zika and dengue have evolved into a real pandemic, making victims all over the planet, though dengue has a much more lethal reputation.
Dengue causes 10.000 to 20.000 casualties per year, while zika has caused only a very limited number of casualties. The problem with zika, however, is that it often causes serious complications in pregnant women, leading to miscarriage and severe malformation of the unborn child. Health care is very important for your life.


The symptoms of both zika and dengue are, in most cases, rather mild. High fever, severe headache which concentrates in and around the eyes, joint pains and possibly vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms are easily confused with those of the flu.

Dengue victims usually also have a skin rash, and when they start recovering from the virus, they will experience some uncontrollable muscular spasms, which usually subside after a few hours.
What makes dengue so dangerous, is that there are sometimes serious complications which are often, but not only, caused by the age and health condition of the victims. Other reasons for complications can be an earlier infection with one of the 4 other types of dengue. Apart from the mild form, there are also the hemorrhagic dengue and the dengue shock. Any of these 2 complications are to be considered dangerous and potentially deadly, though the last one is the worst.

Hemorrhagic dengue causes the victim to have spontaneous bleedings, both internally and externally (nose, eyes,... ). It also causes low levels of blood platelets and blood plasm leakage. This condition can evolve further into dengue shock, where the victim experiences dangerously low blood pressure, which can force the body to go into shock. A dengue vaccine has been developed in 2010, but it is not yet commercially available. For zika, a vaccine is yet to be developed. Dengue is only being transmitted by mosquitoes, whereas zika has recently been confirmed to also being transmitted sexually.

Climate change

One of the Major reasons these viruses have created a worldwide pandemic, is the increase of long distance traveling over the last 20 years. But there is another reason which plays an important part in the spreading of both dengue and zika. Climate change!

The global warming has not only given the virus-spreading mosquitoes more viable territory, it has also increased their lifespan and the number of hours they remain active during the day! You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see where that will lead to. Because of that, diseases which were previously under control, such as malaria, are now making a comeback. Zika and dengue are even spreading in central Europe! Protecting yourself against mosquitoes becomes therefore more important every year, no matter where you live.