Dangerous Insects, Safe Repellents

mosquitoWhen insects take over the world,” quips the comic Bill Vaughan, “we hope they will remember with gratitude how we took them along on all our picnics.”

While bugs at picnics have long been the topic of bad jokes, what once was a mere irritation is now a major health risk.

Insect-borne disease is a leading cause of sickness and death worldwide. Mosquitoes alone transmit disease to more than 700 million persons annually. Malaria kills three million people each year, including one child every 30 seconds. Although insect-transmitted infections are currently a much greater health problem in tropical and subtropical climates, no part of the world is immune. In Canada and the US, arboviruses transmitted by mosquitoes cause sporadic outbreaks of eastern equine encephalitis, western equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis and La Crosse encephalitis. In 1999, the West Nile virus, transmitted by mosquitoes, was detected for the first time in the Western Hemisphere.

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