Remember the dinosaur cloning process in Jurassic Park? Mosquitoes bit dinosaurs, scientists used the blood to reconstruct DNA, and mayhem ensued? That’s obviously science fiction, but it is not too far from the truth.
Most international health organizations rank the mosquito as the most damaging disease-carrying insect on earth. These flying pests do more than disrupt your picnics. They carry many diseases which, in many cases, can be serious or fatal to pets or people, even in a place like Alabama.
This illness has almost no symptoms and causes serious birth defects. Zika symptoms include slight fever, mild rash, and joint pain. Many people have no symptoms at all. But the virus causes serious birth defects. Zika-carrying mosquitoes are common in tropical areas in the Americas. Most summers, Alabama’s climate qualifies as “tropical.” In fact, Alabama is basically the northernmost tropical area in the Western Hemisphere.
Typically, mosquitoes bite infected birds in Europe and then travel to America. That one fact shows you how hearty these little pests are. West Nile is not typically serious, unless the victim is over 50, under 10, or has a poor immune system. The good news is that, if you survive West Nile, you develop a lifelong immunity. So, many people may be immune to West Nile and not even know it, because typically, this disease has no symptoms.
This tropical disease sometimes affects people in Alabama. Tiny parasites enter the bloodstream and migrate to the liver, where they rapidly reproduce and cause all sorts of problems. If caught early, malaria is not serious at all. But most doctors in the Southern United States don’t see many malaria victims, so they may be unable to diagnose it quickly. If that happens, things can go downhill very quickly.
This encephalitic virus is a lot like West Nile and malaria. The difference is that yellow fever has a much higher fatality rate. Between 15 and 50 percent of these victims do not survive. Making matters worse, the disease progresses rapidly for a few days before it appears to get better. Then, it comes back with a vengeance. There’s no cure for yellow fever.