Dangers of Mosquito Season


The Real Dangers of Mosquito Season

The Real Dangers of Mosquito Season

Now that summer is here, you will likely spend more time outdoors hiking and near water, which can be lots of fun, but it also means close encounters with mosquitoes.

Thankfully, most mosquitoes are nothing more than a nuisance. Still, some species carry viruses that can produce serious illnesses with disabling and even deadly effects.

Mosquito-Borne Diseases to Look Out For

Some experts consider mosquitoes the most dangerous animals to humans because they are primary vectors for many human diseases, including:

  • West Nile Virus
  • Dengue Fever
  • Zika Virus
  • Chikungunya Fever

West Nile Virus

West Nile virus (WNV) is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the United States. Thankfully, many people infected with the virus don’t develop symptoms or only experience mild flu-like symptoms that last a few days. Still, fatigue and weakness caused by the virus can last for weeks or months.

About 20% of patients will develop West Nile fever, and about 1 in 150 will experience severe and sometimes fatal illness affecting the central nervous system.

Recovery from severe illness is possible but usually takes several weeks or months, and some effects on the central nervous system can be permanent.

west nile virus

Symptoms of West Nile Virus

Symptoms of mild to moderate WNV include:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Skin rash on the trunk of the body

Severe symptoms include:

Severe illness can affect anyone; however, individuals over 60 and those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease are at greater risk.

  • Severe headache
  • Disorientation
  • Extreme lethargy and reduced response to outside stimuli (stupor)
  • Neck stiffness
  • High fever
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tremors
  • Seizure or convulsions
  • Vision loss
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Coma

You should seek emergency care if you develop any symptoms related to severe WNV disease.

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever is rare in the continental U.S. Still, there are occasional outbreaks, especially in southern coastal areas where the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes carrying the virus can live and reproduce.

Many infected patients don’t experience any symptoms. In most cases, when symptoms do occur, they are mild and resemble those of the flu. However, there are different types of dengue viruses, and some can be life-threatening.

dengue fever virus

Symptoms of Dengue Fever

The most common dengue fever symptoms include:

  • High fever of 104 F
  • Headache
  • Severe muscle or joint pain
  • Swollen glands
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash

Most patients make a full recovery within a week or ten days. However, some patients’ symptoms worsen and can develop into a life-threatening condition known as dengue hemorrhagic or dengue shock syndrome.

Symptoms of Dengue Hemorrhagic

The most severe form of dengue occurs when inflammation damages your blood vessels, and there is a significant drop in the number of platelets (clot-forming cells), leading to internal bleeding, organ failure, and death.

Warning signs of severe illness typically start within one or two days after the fever goes away and may include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Bloody nose
  • Blood in your urine or stools
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Persistent vomiting or vomiting of blood
  • Unexplained bleeding under the skin resembling a bruise
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Difficult or rapid breathing
  • Feeling irritable or restless

Dengue hemorrhagic is a life-threatening emergency that can develop quickly, so please head to the nearest Rapid Care ER if you develop any of the above symptoms.

Symptoms of Dengue Hemorrhagic

Zika Virus

Luckily there have been no recorded cases of locally acquired Zika virus disease in the United States since 2019. However, we have a few records of people contracting the virus while traveling to other countries. It’s also possible to get the virus through sex with an infected person.

The Zika virus is a genuine concern for pregnant women who can pass the infection to the fetus in the womb because Zika is known to cause specific congenital disabilities such as microcephaly.

zika virus

Symptoms of Zika

About 20% of patients exhibit symptoms, and most only experience mild symptoms lasting up to a week. These are some of the most common Zika virus symptoms:

  • Zika rash – red spots that may be flat, raised, or a combination of both
  • Conjunctivitis (red, inflamed eyes)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint pain (arthralgia)

It’s rare for the Zika virus to cause severe illness that requires hospitalization. However, you should seek medical attention if your symptoms don’t improve within a few days or if they worsen. You should also see your doctor if you are pregnant.

Chikungunya Fever

Even though there are no reports of locally acquired Chikungunya virus in the U.S. in recent years, travelers can get infected abroad and infect mosquitoes here, causing an outbreak.

Thankfully, death from Chikungunya is rare, but some of its symptoms can be debilitating and may persist for months.

Severe cases and deaths from Chikungunya fever are rare. Still, they can occur especially among high-risk populations, including newborn babies, adults over 65, and individuals with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Chikungunya Fever

Symptoms of Chikungunya Fever

  • Sudden high fever of 102 F or higher
  • Severe joint pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and pain (myalgia)
  • Conjunctivitis (red, inflamed eyes)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash

Because the Chikungunya and Dengue viruses produce similar symptoms, it’s a good idea to seek a medical assessment to determine the cause of your symptoms. You should avoid taking aspirin or other NSAIDs until you know you do not have Dengue fever because these medications may increase your risk of bleeding.