10 Things you did not know about mosquitoes and Malaria
It is summer time! You know what that means; Birds and bees, all sorts of greens on the trees! Alas, it is not all sunshine and daisies – rainfall and all sorts of bugs are imminent too. Unfortunately, mosquitos are part of the package, so be prepared for the great itch of the season.
World Malaria Day may occur in April, but you all know how we do things backwards in the Southern Hemisphere; so in honour of Malaria Awareness week this November, here are some fun facts about mosquitoes that you may not have known!
1 - Mosquito means ‘little fly’ in Spanish.
The name is thought to have been coined in the 16th century. Although, in Africa, Australia and New Zealand, they are often called “Mozzies”.
2 - A mosquito can drink up to three times its own body weight in blood
Luckily, they are quite small. It would take over one million bites to drain the average human body.
3 - Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water
They can survive in as little as 2.5cm depth, so if you have drained your pool or fountain, they may still breed in the remaining puddles. Although not very prevalent in the southern regions of Mpumalanga, there are still cases of malaria reported every year transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito. Higher risk areas include but are not limited to: Mozambique, Botswana, Northern Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
4 - Mozzies find and choose their victims based on their breath and sweat
They can smell CO2, it lets them know that large mammals, in this case, humans, are nearby. Sweat is the determining factor that makes a mosquito target one person over another. They are attracted to sweat chemical signatures – often high in cholesterol, folic acid, certain bacteria and perfumes.
5 - Mosquitoes have killed more people in the world, historically, than anything else
The Anopheles mosquito transmits the parasite which is known to us as Malaria. Although preventable and treatable, it still kills over a million people each year. It is believed that the illness took the life of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C.
Malaria may present itself with symptoms common to influenza such as intermittent mild fever and headaches.
6 - Bug Zappers are useless against Mozzies, and poison only helps a bit
Any biting insect ending up in a bug zapper is a happy coincidence. Insecticides may kill off a few adults, but are usually not effective against their eggs or larvae.
7 - The United States may be on to something…
Some towns in the United States are breeding and releasing dragonflies in certain areas, as they feast and minimise the mosquito population! Gambusia fish are used to snack on the larvae and mosquito eggs.
8 - Bats are not fond of Mozzies
Only about 1% of their diet is made up of mosquitoes as they prefer dragonflies and other larger insects.
9 - There is nothing that masks your smell
Mosquito repellents cannot and will not mask your musk. They are just smelly to mosquitoes, and therefore they stay away.
10 - Mosquitoes are light-weight
If you have a fan blowing on you, it makes it harder for them to stick their landing. They can’t bite where they can’t land! If you don’t like direct continuous air on you, opt for a fan that rotates from side to side. This will at least disrupt their general flight.
Mosquitoes are bothersome during the warmer months, so, make sure your first aid kit / medicine cabinet is stocked this festive season – for the accidental scraped knee or headache – and of course, something to repel the buzzing beasts of the night.
Luckily, Mopani has everything you need – suitable to protect everyone in the family,
Mopani Pharmacy stocks it all; anti-mosquito lamps, protective netting for baby-campers, insect repellent spray for all ages, patches and candles. Of course, we also have some soothing ointments and creams, in case one makes it through the defences.
Also be sure to stock a Malaria Rapid Test Kit – it sells for only R59,90 (at the time of this article’s last edit) and has a shelf life of 24 months. It has a sensitivity rate of 99.9% and specificity of 99.1% – Consult the Mopani Pharmacy Wellness Clinic Sister about the safe and accurate use of your kit.
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