WILLS POINT, TEXAS (ANS) – Although unusual in the United States, the U.S. is not immune to deadly mosquito-borne diseases. In July, health officials in central Florida discovered a rare form of mosquito-transmitted encephalitis that can cause fatal brain swelling.
Mosquitoes were responsible for nearly 220 million malaria cases around the world in 2017, resulting in 435,000 related deaths—nearly one every minute—according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) latest World Malaria Report.
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On August 20, 1897, India-born British doctor Sir Ronald Ross discovered that the bite of parasite-infected female mosquitoes transmits malaria – and declared that the date should be commemorated as World Mosquito Day each year.
Malaria is just one of numerous deadly diseases transmitted by the bloodsucking insect. In tropical and subtropical regions of the world—mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia—mosquito-borne dengue fever, yellow fever, West Nile virus, African sleeping sickness, and encephalitis ravage extremely poor communities that lack basic healthcare. A female mosquito can live up to eight weeks and lay hundreds of eggs.
Malaria was close to being eradicated in the 1950s, but it soon surged again to epidemic levels in India, Indonesia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and other impoverished nations.
Despite this resurgence, WHO reported that the number of malaria cases in India in 2017 declined 24 percent from the previous year, raising hopes of major progress against the disease in the heavily impacted eastern state of Odisha on the Bay of Bengal.
Combating malaria is one of WHO’s eight Millennium Development Goals, and the agency is currently field-testing the first malaria vaccine—potentially a huge breakthrough.
Faith-based agency Gospel for Asia (GFA, www.gfa.org ) it is combatting the deadly mosquito menace and resulting malaria parasite killing thousands of children in Asia.
The Christian organization marks the annual World Mosquito Day on August 20. To read GFA’s special report titled “Fighting Malaria—a Chilling Disease,” visit: http://www.gfa.org/press/mosquito-report .
“It only takes one mosquito to kill a child,” said GFA founder, Dr. K.P. Yohannan, explaining that seven out of every 10 mosquito-caused deaths are children under age five, but a simple mosquito net costing $10 could save a child’s life. GFA provides people with the opportunity to donate mosquito nets at http://www.gfa.org/press/mosquito.
“As GFA combats these mosquitoes and the deadly diseases they carry, we’re seeking to minimize the risk of children being infected,” Yohannan said. “It’s part of our commitment to the remote communities we serve and one way to express God’s love for them.”
This year, health workers at more than a thousand GFA-supported medical camps in Asia will teach families the importance of sleeping every night under a mosquito net and making sure they remove stagnant water around their homes to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds.
In 2018, GFA-supported workers helped distribute 360,000 free mosquito nets to vulnerable families across Asia, and similar malaria prevention efforts are underway this year.
“Many villagers in remote areas can’t afford to buy mosquito nets or preventive medications,” Yohannan said. “This is why our efforts are so critical and show people that we really do care about them.”
The author of this story, Michael Ireland, is a self-supported media missionary with ANS. Click here to support him as a missionary journalist.