The most deadly animal in the world is the mosquito. Mosquitos carry and transmit painful and sometimes fatal illness. It might seem impossible that something so miniscule can kill so many people, but it’s true. According to the World Health Organization, mosquito bites result in the deaths of more than 1 million people every year.

The Diseases

About 10 percent of the 2000 species of mosquitoes live in North America. Thriving in humid and damp areas, mosquitoes reproduce quickly. Laying eggs in shallow pools of water, the eggs hatch and grow, becoming adult, biting mosquitoes. And these biting pests can carry a myriad of diseases:

West Nile Virus

Now considered a seasonal epidemic in North America, West Nile virus makes the news nearly every summer. It causes inflammation of the brain, and can be fatal in some patients.


This mosquito-borne disease can be found around the world, primarily in Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the South Pacific. Symptoms can vary from one patient to another, and include fever, body aches, coma, and death.


This pathogen is transmitted by mosquitoes, and has established itself in the Caribbean and Southern most US states. The name “Chikungunya” is attributed to the Kimakonde (a Mozambique dialect) word meaning “that which bends up”, which describes the primary symptom – excruciating joint pain. Although rarely fatal, the symptoms are debilitating and may persist for several weeks. There is no vaccine and primary treatment is limited to pain medication.


The term encephalitis refers to an inflammation of the brain. In California, West Nile virus (WNV), St. Louis encephalitis (SLE), and western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE) are the three most important viral mosquito-borne viruses that can cause encephalitis/encephalomyelitis. The viruses that cause these diseases are maintained in nature through a mosquito-bird-mosquito cycle.

Yellow Fever

Found in South America and Africa, this disease does have a vaccine. However, in areas where the vaccine is unavailable, the mosquitoes transmit the disease from one person to another.

Heart Worm

A parasite affecting household pets, the larvae are transmitted by mosquitoes. Untreated, heartworms can clog up the heart, causing cardiovascular problems and death.
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