What Diseases Do Mosquitoes Carry?

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Could A Mosquito Bite Make You Sick?

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The mosquito is considered by many to be the most dangerous creature on the planet. These annoying little pests are directly connected to over a million deaths, worldwide, every year. But are they really a threat here in the United States? We've compiled this list of 6 mosquito-borne illnesses that may make you think twice about letting a mosquito bite you.

West Nile Virus

Symptoms: fever, headache, body pain, rash, and swollen lymph nodes. Severe symptoms can include sleepiness, stiff neck, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, and paralysis.

Vector: This is a flavivirus that uses some birds and Aedes mosquitoes as a vector.

Zika Virus

This virus gets its name from the location in central Africa where it was first documented. Since its discovery off the coast of South America in 2014, it has been found in 35 countries throughout the Americas. As of July 2016, there have been over 400 cases of travel-related Zika in the United States. But no cases of local transmission.

Symptoms: Zika is a virus that has been proven to cause microcephaly in unborn children at all stages of pregnancy. This is a congenital birth defect that is characterized by small head size and brain damage.

Vector: There are only two mosquito species in the U.S. that are known to carry Zika virus: Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.

Click here to learn more about the Zika Virus.


This is a viral pathogen that is rarely fatal, but often excruciatingly painful, as it attacks the joints in the body. There is no vaccination for this virus. Symptoms must be managed with pain medication. Outbreaks of this virus have occurred in Florida.

Symptoms: Fever, joint pain, muscle pain, joint swelling, and rash.

Vector: Primary vector is Aedes aegypti, but Aedes albopictus is also known to carry this virus.


This virus is believed to infect as many as 100 million people worldwide every year but rarely occurs in the United State, according to the CDC. It is believed that ongoing mosquito abatement is responsible for the inability of this virus to maintain a vector. But transmission of dengue is widespread through many countries that border the United States. Most cases of U.S. citizens occur in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Samoa, and Guam.

Symptoms: Headache, fever, muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, and rash.

Vector: The main vector for this virus is Aedes aegypti, but it can be spread by Aedes albopictus as well. While albopictus is can spread the disease, it is not efficient and is not linked to major outbreaks of the disease.


This is an illness characterized by a swelling of the brain. There are several mosquito-borne diseases with the name encephalitis, such as Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis Encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, and LaCrosse encephalitis, but there are other viruses that produce encephalitis, including West Nile, yellow fever, and dengue.

Symptoms: The primary symptom is inflammation of the brain, but there can be other flu-like symptoms as well.

Vector: Encephalitis can be spread by all species of mosquitoes in the U.S., but primarily Aedes and Culex species. This is a disease that often requires a mosquito and an animal to complete its development.  

Dog Heartworm (Dirofilaria Immitis)

This disease is caused by roundworms. When a mosquito bites a dog that has been infected with roundworm, small young worms called microfilariae, enter the gut of the mosquito. After 2-3 weeks of development, they leave the gut of the mosquito and enter the mouthparts as an infectious disease that can be transferred to other dogs, as well as cats, foxes, and raccoons.

Symptoms: loss of appetite, mild persistent cough, fatigue, and weight loss.

Vector: Culex species of mosquitoes are the primary vector for this disease.

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