How to Protect Yourself from one of the World’s Deadliest Killers

Nobody likes mosquitoes. Not only are they pesky and make us itch, but they are now considered a real threat that needs to be taken more seriously. In his blog, Bill Gates recently posted about “The Deadliest Animals in the World,” stating that mosquitoes are the number one killer of humans and responsible for the deaths of 725,000 people a year. This even trumps humans, who are said to be responsible for 475,000 human deaths per year.  

So what makes these little buzzers so dangerous? The fact that they carry deadly diseases, namely, Malaria, is the most frightening aspect. According to Gates’ article malaria, “kills more than 600,000 people every year; another 200 million cases incapacitate people for days at a time. It threatens half of the world’s population and causes billions of dollars in lost productivity annually. Other mosquito-borne diseases include dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis.”

Gates’ numbers hold true according to a variety of sites and sources including the World Health Organization. Although Malaria is not as common in the United States, mosquito-borne illnesses such as the West Nile Virus have become more prevalent in North America with more than 30,000 cases and 1,200 deaths since 1999 as reported by the CDC.

So now that we are aware of a mosquito’s threat, how do we protect ourselves from them? The best way to avoid any of these diseases is to avoid mosquito bites.

The most direct approach may be the use of a mosquito repellent—and Americans have more options than ever. The CDC recommends four active ingredients in effective repellents: DEET (diethylmetatoluamide), picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Tips to avoid Mosquito Bites:

As temperatures rise, follow these safety measures to cut down on bites:

  • Use insect repellent outside.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, shoes and socks.
  • Stay indoors, especially at dusk and dawn.
  • Fix window and door screens.
  • Get rid of breeding sites, such as all forms of standing water.
  • Keep grass and weeds cut short.
  • Use mosquito netting if you sleep outdoors.

Sources: CDC.gov, Smithsonian.com, World Health Organization, Gatesnotes.com, Viralnova.com