We were having the debate over dinner the other evening around the question ‘do mosquitoes serve any purpose or would it be ok if they were eradicated forever?’ I’m not one to champion eliminating entire species, but in the case of the mosquito I make an exception and propose we could all live without them, while a few people at my table questioned if perhaps they were necessary in some part of the ecosystem.
Mosquitoes are not unusually attracted to me, and I just get an occasional bite or two throughout their breeding season unless I happen to be strolling through a swamp. A few of my family members, though, are quite the opposite. The best mosquito repellent I might have is my husband – if we are together, every last biting bug will find him and leave me alone. The same goes for our daughter, and I really feel for them with their bite welts and unrelenting itching they get from mosquito attacks.
Yes, these pests provide food for bats, birds and even aquatic life such as tadpoles and fish but after reading more, it seems there are other food sources that could fill in the gap if mosquitoes disappeared. Eliminating mosquitoes could also dramatically reduce their effect on humans, much beyond just the annoying bite. Mosquitoes are known to be the carriers of many dangerous diseases, including forms of encephalitis like the West Nile Virus, Dengue fever, malaria and now the Zika virus. Estimates are over 700 million people are infected with a disease via the mosquito bite with as many as one million resulting in death.1 That’s enough for me to take the view that the world would be better without the mosquito.
By now you might find this interesting but also wondering why is it a topic for MultipleSclerosis.net readers? It is now being reported that the Zika virus, caused by the mosquito bite and first discovered in Brazil, is creating neurological problems in the brain very similar to multiple sclerosis. 2,3 In advance of their annual meeting for 2016, The American Academy of Neurology released the results of a very small study that shows people affected by the Zika virus may develop neurologic problems that include demyelination of the brain and immune inflammatory processes, much like what occurs in MS.
According to a release from AAN-
“For the study, researchers followed people who came to the hospital in Recife from December 2014 to June 2015 with symptoms compatible with arboviruses, the family of viruses that includes Zika, dengue and chikungunya. Six people then developed neurologic symptoms that were consistent with autoimmune disorders and underwent exams and blood tests. The authors saw 151 cases with neurological manifestations during a period of December 2014 to December 2015.
All of the people came to the hospital with fever followed by a rash. Some also had severe itching, muscle and joint pain and red eyes. The neurologic symptoms started right away for some people and up to 15 days later for others.
Of the six people who had neurologic problems, two of the people developed acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), an attack of swelling of the brain and spinal cord that attacks the myelin, which is the coating around nerve fibers. In both cases, brain scans showed signs of damage to the brain’s white matter. Unlike MS, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis usually consists of a single attack that most people recover from within six months. In some cases, the disease can reoccur. Four of the people developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a syndrome that involves myelin of the peripheral nervous system and has a previously reported association with the Zika virus.
When they were discharged from the hospital, five of the six people still had problems with motor functioning. One person had vision problems and one had problems with memory and thinking skills.” 4
If Dengue Fever and Malaria weren’t enough to base my case against the mosquito upon, this latest finding seals my opinion. The world doesn’t need more people affected with MS like symptoms and we would all be better off without mosquitoes.
Wishing you well,