Mosquitoes, Men and Malady


By Mohun Aujayeb

Very often in a gathering, garden party or even indoors a few people get mosquito bites while others remain free of them as if they possess a sort of shield. In fact, the situation as revealed by scientific research is that mosquitoes shun some people while being attracted to others. The presence of certain scents and smells or odorants makes the difference and this is the basis on which repellents work. The need to control mosquito bites is not only because they can result in sore skin, inflammation and itching but also because through bites mosquitoes effectively transmit devastating disease like malaria, dengue, chikungunya… They are vectors of serious diseases.

The mosquito taking the blood meal from a human body injects (vomits) anticoagulant saliva first before sucking blood. If that person is suffering from the transmissible disease, the blood ingested by the mosquito will contain the parasites/germs of the disease. The next person bitten by the mosquito becomes infected and in turn develops the disease. Once the mosquito becomes infectious, it is capable of transmitting the germs for the rest of its life during each subsequent bite or blood meal. Not all diseases are transmitted in this manner by mosquito bites, e.g., Covid, influenza cannot be transmitted by bites.

Humans are important to the lifecycle of some mosquitoes (females need a blood meal before they can produce eggs). Mosquitoes have evolved to detect and distinguish people from other animals. They detect our scent, follow the air we exhale, identify the odours emanating from our body, underarms… Finally heat guides them to the choicest sites on which to land while taste receptors on their feet help them locate where to bite.

The manner in which the mosquitoes detect, bite and infect us is striking. And the way to safeguard us is to prevent being bitten. Evidently, we can try and kill mosquitoes in the surroundings, but we cannot eradicate them from a tropical country like ours.

While the relevant authorities control the mosquitoes and contain the spread of disease, it is logical that we should try to avoid being bitten. While wearing of appropriate clothing offer some protection, the use of repellents stands as a means of choice to keep the mosquitoes away. However, repellents should be used correctly and should be of good, certified quality.

Repellents disrupt the mosquitoes’ ability to smell and locate us. At times using a good perfume camouflages our scent and keeps mosquitoes at bay. So, the best thing to do is not to be attracted by mosquitoes and protect ourselves. An ounce of protection goes a long way to keeping men away from mosquitoes and disease.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 21 July 2023

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