The world’s deadliest creature isn’t what you’d expect.
A 2014 graphic from Bill Gates’ blog outlined the number of deaths per year related to animals. Scroll down and you’ll see the biggest offender — mosquitoes.
Yes, mosquitoes — the pesky bugs that suck up blood and transmit viruses from person to person — are responsible for the most animal-related deaths.
“When it comes to killing humans, no other animal even comes close,” Gates noted on the blog.
Malaria by itself is responsible for more than half of mosquito-related deaths, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa, though that incidence fell by 37% between 2000 and 2015, according to the World Health Organisation. Dengue fever, another mosquito-borne disease, has become a leading-cause of hospitalisation and death among children in some Asian and Latin-American countries.
And it’s not just deaths that mosquitoes are responsible for. The recent spread of the Zika virus in the Americas via mosquito has alerted the world to the impact the pest has. Once infected with Zika, only about 20% of people ever show symptoms, which most commonly include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. One reason why Zika is troubling is because it has been linked with birth defects in babies whose mothers have had Zika symptoms and a neurological condition called Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
While Aedes aegypti has been singled out as the carrier of Zika and dengue, other mosquitoes like those in the Anopheles group carry malaria.
Apart from vaccines, mosquito eradication is one of the best ways to curb the spread of deadly infectious diseases. Then, perhaps, there could be a new deadliest animal.
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