Mosquito Week 2014

At its peak, its population outnumbers every other except for termites and ants. It kills 725,000 people a year and effects permanent human migration by the thousands. You can’t outrun it; it lives on every continent except Antarctica.

Forget sharks or angry humans with AK-47s. The deadliest animal on the planet is the mosquito.

The animal may be the perfect disease-delivery machine. It swarms at night, when people are sleeping. They’re tiny and fast, and as any sleep-deprived, bleary-eyed itchy martyr knows, nearly impossible to swat.

Though they don’t have the cache of the crocodile or the ick factor of the tapeworm, the mosquito wins wings down as the biggest killer.

Bill and Melinda Gates know a lot about mosquitos. They’ve spent a lot of money fighting mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and yellow fevers, and encephalitis. They’ve spent even more money fighting the grand-daddy of mosquito-borne diseases, malaria, whose symptoms are described as a cross between being hit by lightning and having an anvil fall on your head.

Welcome to Mosquito Week!

In his blog Gatesnotes, Bill Gates writes that he has decided to dedicate this week to educating people about mosquitoes and the physical and economic disasters they cause. Being super geeky, he seems to respect the elegance and economy of what he calls ‘these flying masters of mayhem.’

What does this have to do with travelling?

Plenty. The more you know about the mosquitoes in your area, the better you can prepare. (Scary factoid: mosquitoes follow the food, adapting to indoor or outdoor feeding depending on the richness of the source-you)

Consult with your doctor, national travel advisories, and – best of all- people who’ve been to the region for advice. Get some good bug spray and medical travel insurance. Happy swatting!