The 4 Most Common Mosquito-Borne Diseases: Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever & West Nile Virus

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Mosquitoes can cause more than itchy, annoying bumps. These flying insects have the potential to infect humans with several different potentially dangerous and deadly diseases. In the United States, mosquito-related deaths are rare, but they can and do occur. Those who are planning to travel abroad, should be aware of the types of mosquito transmitted diseases, preventative measures one can take, as well as the symptoms and urgency of treatment should infection occur. Here we take a look at the four main mosquito-borne diseases.


Malaria is quite rare in the United States, but affects 300 to 500 million people worldwide, and can have dangerous and even deadly consequences. This parasitic disease can be transmitted from infected mosquitoes to humans.

There are three stages of malaria infection. The cold stage can cause symptoms such as fever, shaking and chills. The hot stage can cause symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, high fever, dizziness, delirium, headache and pain. The sweating stage can cause symptoms such as splenomegaly, decreased body temperature, hepatomegaly, sweating, fever and chills, fatigue, shortness of breath, anemia, pale skin and extreme exhaustion.

Those who suspect that they have malaria need to get medical attention immediately so that they can begin treatment and have the best chance of avoiding serious health complications and death.

Yellow Fever

Yellow fever, a viral diseases, is another mosquito-borne illness. The early symptoms of this disease typically last two to five days and can include headache, nausea and vomiting, muscle pain, high fever, kidney inflammation, furry tongue, irritability, slowed pulse, decreased urine, bloodshot eyes, constipation, facial flushing and proteinurea.

Those with yellow fever will often experience a remission lasting a few hours or a few days. Once the remission is over the yellow phase begins and lasts for about three to nine days. The symptoms associated with the yellow phase can include most of the early symptoms plus; jaundice, convulsions, bleeding, confusion, hemorrhage, renal damage, bruising, weakness, acute fever, slowed heartbeat, diarrhea, bloody vomit or black vomit, hematuria, liver inflammation, chest and abdominal pain and yellow skin. Coma and death can also occur. Those who suspect that they have this disease need to seek medical attention immediately to begin treatment and to try and avoid serious medical complications, coma and death.

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever is an acute viral disease and an infectious disease that can be transmitted from mosquitoes to humans. Epidemics of dengue are growing, and it is currently estimated that 50 to 100 million people develop this disease each year throughout more than 100 countries.

In adults, the symptoms can include swollen lymph nodes, high fever (up to 105F), muscle aches and pain, rash, weakness, pain behind the eyes, severe joint pain and nausea and vomiting. The symptoms of dengue fever in children can include decreased heart rate, fever, extreme exhaustion, maculopapular rash, severe muscle pain, weakness, severe headaches and enlarged lymph nodes. Medical attention should be sought immediately for the best outcome, and to prevent further spread of this illness.

West Nile Virus

West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne illness in the United States. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) tracks the activity and spread of this illness and has worked to raise awareness of simple protective measures one can take, such as the elimination of common breeding grounds for mosquitos and the application of mosquito repellent.

The symptoms of West Nile virus can include fever, seizures, neck pain, lethargy, headache, coma, body aches, malaise, rash, fatigue, muscle aches, stiff neck, swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, weakness, photophobia, nausea and vomiting, altered mental state and maculopapular rash. This is a very serious disease that needs to be treated by a doctor immediately for the best outcome.


National Institute of of Allergy and Infections Diseases: Malaria Quick Facts

National Institute of of Allergy and Infections Diseases: Understanding Dengue Fever

Center for Disease Control (CDC): West Nile Virus

Wrong Diagnosis: Complications of Mosquito Bite.