- by Gary Finnegan

World Mosquito Day 2016: 5 ways to beat the bugs

World Mosquito Day 2016!

If you keep up with the news, you might be tempted to believe that the bugs are winning. The Zika virus regularly steals recent headlines. Meanwhile, dengue fever affects over 390 million people every year; malaria kills 600 million+ annually, and other mosquito-borne diseases continue to cause devastation worldwide – including Japanese encephalitis, West Nile virus, chikungunya, and yellow fever. But, we remain optimistic.

world mosquito day 2016 unofficial logo

World Mosquito Day 2016 unofficial logo designed by Oluwaseun Esho


Read our Top 5 reasons for hope on World Mosquito Day 2016

Designer mosquitoes: The idea that releasing more mosquitoes into the community might help to curb disease may feel counterintuitive but field trials in Brazil have shown it can be done. Genetically-modified mosquitoes, bred in a lab, have reduced mosquito populations by up to 90%. The offspring of the GM-mosquitoes do not reach maturity, meaning the number of bugs falls dramatically.

Diagnostics: Tests to diagnose dengue and other vector-borne diseases can be tricky. Differentiating between dengue and Zika, for example, can only be done in high-end laboratories – which can be slow and expensive. But innovative new diagnostics that will make diagnosis faster, more precise and more mobile. Knowing which disease you have improves that chances of swift and effective treatment. Expect to see more action in this field in the year to come.

Vaccines: The world’s first dengue vaccine is here. It has already been embraced by countries in Asia and Latin America and recommended by the WHO in areas where the disease is endemic. More countries are expected to follow later this year as the public health value becomes clear. Meanwhile, a malaria vaccine is closer than ever, and the search for a Zika vaccine is hotting up.

Awareness: Dengue has long been a neglected disease but there are signs that it has crept up the public health agenda. ASEAN Dengue Day has never been bigger and non-governmental organizations, including the Malaria Consortium, have dengue in their sights.

Disease surveillance: The WHO says recording the number and location of dengue fever is essential to its control. After all, decisions about how to allocate resources – and conclusions about whether interventions have worked – are informed by strong monitoring systems. Break Dengue is helping to build the ultimate disease tracking tool that adds crowd-sourced data to traditional sources of disease surveillance. You can help by becoming a Dengue Tracker

Yes, there are plenty of challenges on the horizon but given the progress seen in recent years there is cause for optimism. Maybe one day we’ll celebrate World Mosquito Day by remembering all the misery they used to cause – before we won the war.

Read more about how scientists are combating growing insecticide resistance

image with a quote from Ronald Ross reading "he belief is growing on me that the disease is communicated by the bite of the mosquito. … She always injects a small quantity of fluid with her bite—what if the parasites get into the system in this manner." on World Mosquito Day.

Image via NIAID

What is World Mosquito Day?

In 1897, a British doctor named Sir Ronald Ross made a discovery which ultimately led to smarter ways to prevent dengue fever – even if that wasn’t his primary intention at the time.

It was Ross who found that female mosquitoes (of the Anopheles genus) were to blame for transmitting the malarial parasite. And he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1902. Since then, his discovery is celebrated August 20, every year on World Mosquito Day.

Now you can help map the dengue virus, from your phone. Click the link below:

Dengue Track