8 Facts About Deadly Vector-Borne Diseases
August 19, 2019
This year, one of the most important agenda of the World Health Organization (WHO) is to address and draw more attention to one of the biggest health threats that people face globally — vector-borne diseases.
From the name itself, this group of diseases is caused by vectors. These are organisms that can spread parasites and microorganisms from one person to another. The most common examples of vectors include the following: flies, ticks, bugs, snails, and mosquitoes.
Some of the most common diseases are very common in households. Illnesses such as dengue, yellow fever, malaria, Bubonic plague, typhoid, Lyme disease, and West Nile virus are typical among overpopulated areas of the planet. Other diseases are less known but can be as deadly. It includes Chagas disease, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, and leishmaniasis.
Vector-borne diseases are the main focus of the World Health Organization because they cause a significant number of deaths all over the planet. This group of diseases brings suffering, epidemic, and distress. The people who are left alive tend to become “permanently debilitated, deformed, maimed, disfigured, and blind.” According to WHO’s Dr.Neeraj Mistry from the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, vector-borne diseases are the major reasons for lower economic productivity among adults. It is also one of the main causes of poor attendance to children among poor and middle-income countries. Vector-borne diseases pose a primary threat to achieving development goals in many aspects such as in financial obligations, nutrition, education, maternal health, and child health.
The good news is that many of these vector-borne diseases can be prevented, controlled and eliminated through existing equipment, medicines, and other vector-control measures. Scientists never cease to innovate ways to reduce if not eliminate the existence of vectors, especially in certain countries where this group of diseases is most rampant.
Here are some of the most shocking facts about vector-borne diseases in accordance with their findings during World Health Day in 2014:
1. Vector-borne diseases infect more than one billion people worldwide. This includes over 500 million children. Did you know that they can cause at least one million deaths annually?
Sadly, vectors cause more death and suffering to people than we anticipated. According to advocates such as Kate Holt, cents play a significant role to help reach far-flung communities where vector-borne diseases run amuck. Unlike well-developed countries, Africa and some parts of Asia have no access to unlimited medical care.
Most of the deaths from these countries are the result of a lack of treatment and equipment. For this reason, advocates are raising enough money to help these areas to at least have access to the most basic medical needs such as anti-diarrheal, ibuprofen, antibiotics, and dextrose. Without the help of others, many more people will die from vector-borne diseases.
Vector-borne diseases are responsible for more than 17 percent of all infectious disease suffered by humans worldwide. Due to climate change, urbanization, and migration, various species continue to spread. They have the potential to survive and reproduce to infect more people. According to the World Health Organization, the changes in ecology, land-use patterns, and increased movement of people and goods play an important role in the spread of vectors and vector-borne diseases worldwide.
2. Vectors survive in conditions of poverty, mainly in developing countries.
This group of diseases affects the least developed countries in the world. It targets the poorest segments of society where there are poor sanitation and inadequate housing and environmental degradation. Vector-borne diseases are commonly found among tropical and sub-tropical regions. For this reason, they are termed as “neglected tropical diseases.”
3. The deadliest vector-borne disease is transmitted by mosquitoes.
Some people think that Dengue fever is the deadliest disease from mosquitoes. The truth is, people, think that way because of its commonality in some areas. Malaria accounts for the death of more than 1 million people each year. Most of them are African children and the elderly. Unlike dengue, malaria has no known cure. For this reason, it is ranked as the number one killer among vector-borne diseases.
Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes. It is an illness that causes fever, chills and flu-like illness. The symptoms of malaria pose a challenge among people because it is commonly mistaken as the common flu. However, if left untreated, the parasite can lead to severe illness and complications, eventually leading to death.
Did you know that there are more than 3.4 billion people who are at risk of malaria in 97 countries? The disease can kill more than 600,000 people each year, most of whom are children under five and adults over 60. According to statistics, around 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in Congo and Nigeria. The World Health Organization reiterates, “The best way to prevent malaria infection is through the regular use of long-lasting insecticidal nets, indoor spraying of homes with residual insecticides, and the use of WHO-recommended preventive therapies.”
4. More than 40 percent of the world's population is at risk of dengue.
Dengue is one of the common tropical illness from vectors. It is a mosquito-borne infection that causes lethal complications. The symptoms of the Dengue fever is often mistaken as flu. For this reason, many people take their condition for granted without seeking medical advice. If the fever spreads and worsens, it becomes deadly to human beings. Did you know that more than 2.5 billion people in 100 countries are at risk of dengue? The disease causes more or less 100 new infections every year. This is one of the vector-borne illnesses that is rapidly spreading around the world.
5. Leishmaniasis can kill and disfigure thousands of people every year, especially around conflict zones and war zones.
Did you know that the Afghan capital has one of the highest numbers of cases with this disfiguring skin disease called the Cutaneous Leishmaniasis? This is a parasitic disease transmitted by a sandfly.
Leishmaniasis is spread through the bite of infected sandflies. It causes fever, anemia, rashes, skin ulcers, weight loss, spleen enlargement, and liver enlargement. According to statistics, this disease infects more than 1.3 million people and kills around 30,000 every year. Leishmaniasis is common in war zones and conflict zones particularly in the Americas, Asia, East Africa, and the Mediterranean. According to Dr. Peter Hotez from the Huffington Post, Leishmaniasisis accountable for the disfigurement of hundreds of thousands of people in war-torn areas.
6. Snail fever (schistosomiasis) causes anemia, stunted growth and learning impairment in children.
Schistosomiasis is caused by flatworms, also known as blood flukes which is readily transmitted by freshwater snails. People can acquire the disease after repeated contact with infected water. Some of the most common activities that cause Schistosomiasis include doing the laundry, washing the dishes, water collection, bathing, fishing, farming, and many more.
One of the major indications of schistosomiasis is blood in the urine. Did you know that more than 700 million people are at risk of getting infected with the blood fluke? Most of the cases of Schistosomiasishas been documented in 78 countries. The World Health Organization notes that there are over 249 million people who were treated for schistosomiasis in 2012.
7. Lymphatic filariasis, also known as Elephantiasis inflicts significant pain, disfigurement, and social exclusion.
This is a chronic disease brought by mosquitoes which can affect men more than women. According to scientists, it is acquired when a filarial parasite is transmitted to human beings through a mosquito bite. The symptoms of Lymphatic filariasis include damage to the kidney, damage to the lymphatic system, and the immune system. Swelling of the arms, legs, and genitals is also a good indication of Lymphatic filariasis. This disease infects more than 120 million people worldwide. 40 million of whom are left disfigured and debilitated by the disease. Did you know that around 65 percent of infected individuals live in southeast Asia? 30 percent of these 120 million people live in Africa. The rest are from tropical areas throughout Asia and Latin America.
8. There are more than 37 million people worldwide who suffer from river blindness.
This is one of the most neglected vector-borne illness worldwide. Just like Malaria, Onchocerciasis is a disease caused by filarial worms which can infect around 37 million people every year. The disease causes intense itching which can result in skin depigmentation. The indications of river blindness also include lymph node enlargement which causes hanging groins and elephantiasis of the genitals. Furthermore, it can also cause visual impairment and blindness. Did you know that Onchocerciasis is the world’s second leading cause of blindness from vector-borne disease? The illness occurs in 31 countries, including Africa, Yemen, Central Latin America, and Southern Latin America.
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