In England, it was called a plain and simple gnat. Every now and then, you’d get a gnat bite. DANG!
But in hotter countries, where the tabloid press does not lead with the headline “Phew, What a Scorcher!” as soon as the temperature hits 80°F, they become MOSQUITOES.
The creature responsible for the most human deaths on the planet, by a distance, is the mosquito. It is estimated that the mosquito kills anything between 1 million and 5 million people a year as they spread diseases including malaria and dengue fever. Something like 300 million people are affected by these diseases worldwide.
The bad news about mosquitoes in Australia.
- They spread dengue fever.
- There is no vaccine.
- Dengue-related deaths are rare in Australia with just 3 recorded in the 100 years up to 2010.
- Northern Australia is affected more than the south.
Mosquitoes also spread:
- Ross River virus;
- Barmah Forest virus;
- Murray Valley encephalitis;
- Japanese encephalitis.
The good news about mosquitoes in Australia.
- Australia is declared malaria free, so they can’t spread that.
As I understand it, and I’m not an insectomologist, for dengue fever to break out, someone has to visit this country with it, get bitten by a mosquito and that mosquito could then pass it on. Sounds like a long shot, but it does seem to happen about every five years.
Despite there being no vaccine, treatment and more importantly, prevention procedures seem to have improved, which is why we see so few deaths. On the other hand, it is a virus, one bad outbreak could see the figures increased.
Unfortunately, a current outbreak in northern Queensland has already claimed, I think, one life this year and has affected just over a thousand people. These are the first deaths since 2004 and it’s the worst outbreak for 50 years.
So, the Australian mosquito is a very bad Australian thing indeed. It’s a very bad worldwide thing. Of course, mosquitoes have invaded my home on many occasions and I have been bitten probably a hundred times or more. Yet my wife and daughter have never been bitten, they either like you or they don’t.
Mosquitos aren’t big, but for me they are Australia’s biggest baddest thing, I hate them. Yes, way more than snakes. If I could rid this country and the world of one creature it would be the mosquito. No contest.
But statistically, it is extremely rare to be bitten by one in Australia that is carrying any of the above mentioned disease. But, of course, prevention is the key. There is no point in taking chances. I will talk about prevention and the pain in a future post. Don’t worry, there are several things you can do to prevent mosquitoes from cheesing you off.
Next week, the mozzies irritating little brother.