West Nile Virus
by Richard P. Holm, MD
Who is not familiar with the whining high-pitched mating sound of the invading female mosquito during our all-too-short summer months in the mid-west? After she finds the male actually by matching tunes, she goes on a hunt for the blood of birds, or animals in order to take a required meal so she can lay her eggs. When she finds skin, this tiny flying hypodermic syringe injects through her special needle nose some mosquito saliva to dissolve and lubricate so she can suck up the bloody food.
As a matter of fairness, I might add here that the male mosquito is not bloodthirsty and is guilty only by association.
But back to the biting: the trouble with this dangerous female (or femme fatale) all comes from her saliva. It is that salivary juice which causes the very itchy raised allergic welt, which we hate so much. Since she only injects saliva, and not blood from her previous victims, the mosquito does not spread diseases like hepatitis or HIV.
On the other hand, when the mosquito ingests blood from an infected animal, and that illness is of the type that can infect the mosquito itself, then we have a problem. She can spread from her infected saliva such horrid illnesses as malaria and filariasis which are parasites, and deadly viral illnesses such as dengue, yellow fever, equine encephalitis, and of course, West Nile virus.
Many of these mosquito-born illnesses are in developing countries, and one could think "out of sight, out of mind". But in this developed country, we continue to face a dangerous mosquito-spread condition that has reached by wing from the West Nile region. So use your repellent and keep away from that nasty mosquito saliva.
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