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Nearly everyone is sensitive to mosquito bites. But for those with severe allergies, symptoms not only that they can be annoying, they can be really serious. Mosquito bites are caused by female mosquitoes feeding on your blood. Female mosquitoes have a mouthpart made to pierce skin and siphon off blood. Female mosquito can be attracted to the skin by body odor, light, sweat, heat, lactic acid and carbon dioxide. She inserts the tip of her mouth into a tiny blood vessel, injects her saliva into your bloodstream and then sucks the blood. Males don’t produce eggs and so have no need for protein in blood and that is why they don’t have this blood-sucking ability because. As a biting mosquito fills itself with blood, it injects saliva into your skin. Proteins in the saliva trigger a mild immune system reaction that causes localized redness, swelling and itching. A mosquito bite can cause a variety of reactions. Some people may not react at all. However most of us develop a tiny, itchy red bump that appears hours to days after they have been bitten and may last up to a few days. Mosquitoes can carry certain diseases, such as West Nile virus, malaria, yellow fever and Zika. In severe cases, infections can lead to encephalitis, coma, and even death.

West Nile virus is one of the most common mosquito illnesses in the US right now. Many of the deaths attributed to West Nile–triggered encephalitis and meningitis (swelling of the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord). Even though the neurologic implications are really serious,immunization is not available yet.

Zika. The symptoms are mild and usually run their course in less than a week. You may have a fever, joint or muscle pain, pinkeye, or a rash. The virus has been linked to more serious problems: cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome (is a nervous system disorder that can cause weakness and paralysis but most people recover over time) and a birth defect called microcephaly (causes a baby’s head to be small and not fully develop and may have developmental and intellectual delays and other problems). There’s no vaccine to prevent the virus.

Yellow fever is far more common in tropical areas of the world. Symptoms include fever, chills, major headaches and muscle aches, and occasionally organ failure and death. There is a vaccine for immunization.

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. If not promptly treated, the infection can become severe and may cause kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion, coma, and death. Attempts at producing an effective malaria vaccine and vaccine clinical trials are ongoing.

Some ways to prevent mosquito bites include:
• wearing protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and a wide-brimmed hat
• eliminating standing water around the home (empty children’s pools, clean birdbaths, and empty unused containers)
• repairing holes in window or door screens
• using citronella-scented candles in outdoor areas or campsites

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