THE QUESTION OF THE ERADICATION OF MOSQUITO-BORNE DISEASES
There are 6 main types of mosquito-borne illnesses and they each have varying `levels of fatality or severity. Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases, causing more than 700 000 deaths annually with Malaria causing more than 400 000 deaths every year globally, most of them children under 5 years of age. Many of these diseases are preventable through informed protective measures.
The following are mosquitos and the illnesses they transfer:
- Aedes mosquito
- Dengue fever
- Lymphatic filariasis
- Rift Valley fever
- Yellow fever
- Anopheles mosquito
- Lymphatic filariasis
- Culex mosquito
- Japanese encephalitis
- Lymphatic filariasis
- West Nile fever
For all different diseases the same measures can be taking to prevent getting bitten: civilians can use mosquito repellents, cover your skin and use mosquito nets when you sleep. Additionally, breeding grounds for mosquitos should be destroyed.
Chikungunya virus has been found in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The virus is transmitted to humans through a bite from infected females – they bite throughout the day but the peak times are at dawn and at dusk. The mosquito that transmits this illness has been found in 60 countries.
Often the symptoms are mild and the infection will go unrecognised or misdiagnosed. The illness does not usually result in major issues – occasionally it can result in eye, neurological and heart complications. In older people the disease can lead to arthritic pain and may cause death. There is no vaccine or antiviral drug but it is possible to relieve the symptoms.
Cases of the zika virus have been reported in over 130 countries in Africa, Asia and the pacific but particularly in the Americas. In 2016 WHO announced a public health emergency of international concern in regards to the zika virus.
The virus spreads through mosquitos and humans. A mosquito infects a human and then the human can pass it on through practising unsafe sexual intercourse and during pregnancies – the virus has been observed in bodily fluids. Symptoms are mild but during pregnancies the virus can cause microcephaly. There is no vaccine but by practicing safe sex it will not be transmitted through humans.
Dengue fever has been reported in Latin America, USA, Europe, Africa and Asia (in the tropics, rural and urban areas) – the mosquito is in over 128 countries and has left 3.9 billion people at risk. Infections are caused by a bite of an infected female during the day.
Flu-like symptoms occur around 4-10 days after the bite and this can develop into severe dengue and can lead to death. Medical care is vital to avoid death. There is a vaccine licenced in a few countries but apart from this there is no treatment; however, early detection lowers the fatality rate to less than 1%.
WEST NILE VIRUS
This virus has been found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and West Asia. Mosquitos feed on infected birds and then transmit the disease to humans or horses from dusk to dawn.
The West Nile Virus can cause fatal neurological disease but only 20% of infected people will display symptoms. There is no vaccine but treatment in hospitals such as respiratory support would be needed.
Malaria is present in 95 countries and 3.2 billion people are at risk from developing malaria – sub-saharan African countries have a large quantity of malaria carrying mosquitos which bite from dusk until dawn. Luckily, people living in malaria epidemic areas develop partial immunity.
There is medicine to prevent it and this is necessary as it is fatal without treatment. Travelers going on holiday in areas where risk of infection is high can use chemoprophylaxis. In hospitals in certain high-risk countries, if a patient comes in exhibiting malaria symptoms they will immediately given medicine to treat malaria – before tests confirm whether there is an infection
Yellow fever is found in Africa and Latin America in urban, jungle, forest or semi-humid conditions and is transmitted via mosquito bites. In May 2016 WHO’s emergency committee called for action and support for yellow fever outbreaks.
Yellow fever can be difficult to diagnose and can be confused with other illnesses. If undiscovered patients can enter a toxic phase and half of these will die within 10-14 days. Vaccines are available for humans and to travel to and from certain countries proof of vaccination is needed. The vaccination can provide life-long protection.
POINTS TO CONSIDER
When writing a resolution delegates could consider the following:
– How mosquito populations can be controlled and breeding grounds destroyed
– How to increase the efficiency of current methods for dealing with the issues
– How education and research would play a role in tackling this
– How the UN can support member states struggling with outbreaks of mosquito-borne illnesses
Delegates would also benefit from reading articles WHO has produced in regards to mosquito-borne illnesses.