Mosquitoes are re-emerging as a serious North American health threat as carriers of the West Nile Virus. In the developing world, mosquitoes pose an even more menacing danger. There, they transmit malaria, the deadliest disease borne by any insect or animal anywhere. This year, malaria deaths are expected to spike upwards, after more than a decade of steady decline. The reason: Ebola. The fragile health systems in West Africa have been stretched to the limit in the Ebola fight, and routine measures to combat malaria have gone by the wayside.
The illness is called Chikungunya (pronounced chick-uhn-guhn-ya) and is derived from the African Makonde language meaning "to become contorted" or "to walk bent over." As the name implies, the disease is manifested through the development of muscle and joint pains although this isn't the only symptom.
In the coming month, close to a half million Canadian snowbirds, will seek out new homes in the southern United States. While the promise of a gentler environment is obvious, there are risks with the semi-annual migration. The lack of a freezing season means a number of pests thrive throughout the year including the ever annoying mosquito.
We've all heard that mold in the home is extremely hazardous to our health, but did you know that mold occurs outdoors as well? Our gardens and backyards are actually a great breeding space for molds that are inhaled via mold spores. Our immune systems deal with these mold spores just like an allergy, with watery eyes, sneezing and congestion.
Mosquito bites mean something different in many parts of the world. Working for an international aid and development agency, I've learned about the dangers of malaria, an infectious disease transmitted by the bite of an infected female mosquito. On World Malaria Day, I think about the millions of children who have no bug spray -- not ever.
Hollywood is not the only place with an increasing their number of sequels. While returning health villains, like West Nile Virus and "Swine Flu 2" continue to represent only a minority of worldwide infections, the future is looking rather glum. There are certain to be more germs that will re-emerge and send us all into a frenzy worthy of a blockbuster's opening day weekend.