When it comes to killing humans, no other species, including our own, even comes close to the mosquito. Over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year.
Mosquitoes can be carriers of malaria, yellow fever, zika virus, West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis and dengue fever. The worst of those is malaria, which kills more than 627,000 people every year, most of them children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa, and another 200 million cases incapacitate people for days at a time.
It’s not the mosquito itself that kills, but rather a parasite the mosquito carries. The malaria parasite (plasmodium) is transmitted by female mosquitoes of the Anopheles genus.
You’ll find the Anopheles all over the world, with the exception of Antarctica. Approximately 40% of the world’s population is susceptible to malaria, mostly in the tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world.
The mosquito transmits malaria after biting an infected person and then passes along the parasite to the next person it nibbles on. Malaria is a blood-transmitted disease, which means you can’t contract it from casual contact with another person. Because it’s transmitted through the blood, you can contract it from a contaminated transfusion or needle. But mosquitoes are primarily to blame for the spread of malaria infection. It is reported that malaria kills one child every 40 seconds.
Mosquitos also spread the Zika virus. Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The World Health Organization has declared the birth defects linked to the Zika virus an international health emergency. Up to 4 million cases of the virus are estimated for the Americas in 2016.