Quick Takes – Eliminating Mosquito-borne Disease

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Photo Credit – wikimedia

Resources Should be Used to Target Underlying Causes of Illness

Mosquitoes kill 725,000 people a year worldwide by transmitting diseases like malaria and yellow fever. So, when a billionaire and international philanthropist like Bill Gates is spending millions on mosquito awareness and research towards cures and eventual eradication of these diseases, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea. However, the resources funneled into these programs should be devoted to alleviating the underlying causes of these illnesses.

Access to water is a severe problem, with approximately 3.4 million people worldwide dying each year from associated diseases. And, if the deaths from diseases not being properly treated because of a lack of clean water are included, that number steadily grows larger. For someone trying to bring down a high fever or perform an emergency procedure, clean water can be the difference between life and death.

Additionally, United Nations Emergency Fund statistics show that 22,000 children die every day from poverty-related health issues. It’s quite clear that most who die from diseases like malaria are at increased risk due to substandard living conditions.

Undoubtedly, the Gates Foundation and its benefactors have an honorable mission. A private donation to better the lives of the less fortunate shows rare compassion. Gates’s initiatives to increase awareness of mosquitoes and the diseases they transmit are a great start, but future efforts would be better served by trying to solve what is at the root of so many international problems.

—  Charu Mehra Staff Writer

 

Vaccines Are the Most Effective Method to Eradicate Malaria 

While malaria isn’t prominent in the U.S., it is a leading cause of death in various developing tropical countries. Although efforts to address this disease have been able to curtail casualties, it is imperative that research for vaccines is continued.

Malaria is caused by a parasite commonly found in mosquitoes and transmitted by mosquito bites. According to CNN’s Matt Smith and William Hudson, current efforts to prevent malaria are centered on active protective measures, including the use of pesticides and nets. Yet malaria still manages to kill more than 600,000 people a year. Many travelers are also especially prone to being affected by this disease if it isn’t endemic at home.

However, according to an article in the New York Times, clinical trials treating over 15,000 patients with a GlaxoSmithKline vaccine have shown a 46-percent decrease in cases of malaria for infants 5 to 17 months old at the time of vaccination. Regardless, the vaccine, which may be implemented as early as 2015, illustrates a significant step toward the possibility of avoiding this deadly disease, taking passive preventive steps to prevent altogether the need for treatment later on. Some may believe that eradicating mosquitoes is the solution; however, as the Gates Foundation states, with the source of malaria being the parasites themselves, eliminating the carriers would not suffice.

Vaccinations attempt to prevent parasites from thriving and may provide the ultimate solution to eliminating malaria.

—  Shannon Kang Senior Staff Writer

 

Mosquitoes Must be Exterminated in Order to Prevent Further Casualties

Humankind has historically been locked in a struggle to eradicate mosquitoes as disease transmitters, and efforts to wipe out these pests are certainly needed in every continent.

Mosquitoes are a problem everywhere in the world because they are one of the most common vectors of disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 114 deaths were reported from the mosquito-transmitted West Nile Virus in the United States in 2013. Americans still live in the shadow of mosquito diseases, even though we may feel insulated from the problem.

Developing nations, most notably in Africa, have had extreme difficulty in trying to eradicate diseases, including malaria. According to the World Health Organization, half of the world’s population is at risk of infection; there are 207 million cases of malaria worldwide, and 607,000 of these cases have resulted in death. Although malaria-related deaths have decreased by 42 percent since 2000, attempts to eradicate the mosquito altogether can eliminate pathways for the transmission of various diseases.

While the United States has done a good job of suppressing malaria, the myriad other diseases mosquitoes cause are a huge problem in the developing world, as new mosquito-borne diseases can evolve and cause even more devastation. It is important that although United States may not feel like they have a stake in the war against mosquitoes, we have just as much of a duty in this globalized society to prevent these diseases from spreading.

—  Hugo Wong Contributing Writer