Many people assume that the deadliest animals on earth must be sharks, bears, mountain lions or some other fierce predator, so many people are surprised to learn that mosquitoes are responsible for the greatest number of human fatalities each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mosquitoes kill around one million people each year, and most of these deaths are due to malaria. While malaria is not a serious issue within the United States, mosquitoes in the country can transmit a variety of diseases to Americans, including the west Nile virus, chikungunya and dengue fever. Most cases of mosquito-borne diseases are transmitted by two species that are abundant in the US. These species, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are most prevalent in the south and southeastern US, and naturally, the greatest amount of mosquito-borne disease cases are reported in these regions. The southeast US is home to the greatest number of mosquitoes, as the insects thrive in hot, humid environments where rainfall is common. The southeast, as well as parts of the midwest and northeast, are the only regions where populations of the two most dangerous mosquito species in the US overlap. While Aedes aegypti, also known as “the yellow fever mosquito,” has existed in North America for centuries, Aedes albopictus, also known as “the Asian tiger mosquito,” was first documented in the United States back in 1985. The first statewide invasion of this species occurred in Georgia, and today it is considered the “number one” pest in the state due to this species’ ability to transmit at least 30 diseases to humans. Much like the yellow fever mosquito, the Asian tiger mosquito reproduces in standing water. These mosquitoes can become numerous in residential areas where they breed within water barrels, leaves, flower pot saucers, rain gutters and tires. The Asian tiger mosquito can spread eastern equine encephalitis and LaCrosse encephalitis, and this species is suspected of transmitting dengue fever and Chikungunya. This species is also active year round in warm tropical and subtropical regions, and it can overwinter in more temperate areas of the US.
Do you think that an outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases will occur in the US before 2030?