MOSQUITO

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COLUMBIA - A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mosquitoes are carrying diseases at alarming numbers.

Tick and mosquito-borne diseases called "Vector-borne diseases" have more than tripled in the past decade. The numbers skyrocketed from 27,388 cases reported in 2004 to 96,075 cases in 2016. 

Mosquito-borne diseases alone jumped from 4,858 in 2004 to 47,461 in 2016.

MU Animal Science professor Susanta Behura said the jump is not just because the disease is involving or the mosquitos are breeding better, but because people are traveling more.

"Interest in travel for example, the world is getting smaller, people are traveling from here to there there to here in no time pretty much very rapidly," Behura said. 

Another reason he said scientists believe the disease is growing is climate change.

"Rising temperature, humidity, so with the rising temperatures the virus takes very little time to replicate itself in the mosquito," Behura said. 

Behura also noted diseases can transfer from person to person quickly. 

"When the diseases spread from person to person it can cause local outbreak," he said.

Behura said we should be aware of how dangerous mosquitos are. 

"These are the most dangerous animals on the planet because they spread very dangerous diseases that spread not only in humans, but also from humans to animals and back to humans," he said.

Some easy ways to fight back against mosquitoes include wearing long clothes and using mosquito repellant, but Missouri Department of Conservation media specialist Robert Hemmelgarn said people should go one step further.

"Getting rid of any standing water, making sure gutters are unplugged and that can help prevent having mosquitoes around," he said.

He said there are about 50 to 60 types of mosquitoes in Missouri. Although mosquitoes carry diseases, Hemmelgarn said this should not stop people from enjoying the great outdoors.

"Some of them only bite frogs for instance, some of them only bite birds and only female mosquitoes actually draw blood and bite people," Hemmelgarn said. 

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