By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First published in print: 09/21/2014
You can always find me in a crowd -- if you're a mosquito.
I could be concealed within total-body protective gear, adorned with mosquito-repellant bands on my ankles and wrists, lathered with DEET and oil of lemon eucalyptus, topped with a permethrin-infused hat, and, still, if there's a mosquito within flying distance it will hunt me down and bite me. It will release pheromonal signals, inviting all its friends to join the blood fest.
It's not just the ferocious itching from these bites that bothers me. Or my cortisone---slathered ankles making it look as though I'm always wearing white athletic socks. Or being haunted by the nightmarish image of a blood-sucking mosquito that had been magnified to gigantic proportions in a pre-med biology seminar.
No, I'm primarily disturbed by the terrible efficiency of these biting creatures to transmit human diseases. Nasty diseases, like West Nile Virus, dengue fever, chikungunya virus, yellow fever and malaria.
In particular, mosquito-borne viral infections have been receiving much attention lately. The buzz is that many have been spreading beyond their traditional geographic confines due to shifts in mosquito habitats instigated by changes in temperature and precipitation associated with global warming. (more…)