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July 27, 2016
Who is the biggest killer on the planet?
One Million Deaths Every Year
The most deadly animal in the world is the mosquito. It might seem impossible that
something so miniscule can kill so many people, but it's true. According to the World
Health Organization, mosquito bites result in the deaths of more than 1 million people
every year. The majority of these deaths are due to malaria.
The Female Anopheles is to Blame
It's not the mosquito itself that kills, but rather a parasite the mosquito carries. Not all
mosquitoes carry the malaria parasite -- only females of the Anopheles genus. You'll find
the Anopheles all over the world, with the exception of Antarctica. The mosquito
transmits malaria after biting an infected person and then passes along the parasite to the
next person it nibbles on. Malaria is a blood-transmitted disease, which means you can't
contract it from casual contact with another person. Because it's transmitted through the
blood, you can contract it from a contaminated transfusion or needle. But mosquitoes are
primarily to blame for the spread of malaria infection.
Sub-Saharan Africa is Hit the Hardest
Today, the majority of malaria deaths occur in Africa, south of the Sahara, where the
malaria parasite is very common. Anyone can contract malaria, but the people most likely
to get seriously or fatally ill are those with little or no immunity -- young children,
pregnant women or travelers who live in an area that has no malaria.
Bed Nets and Spraying to Control
Affected countries now turn to malaria control rather than eradication. The Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention refers to these activities as vector control. Vector control
means decreasing contact between humans and disease carriers on an area-by-area basis.
The aim is to cut down on the mosquito parasite population using insecticide treated nets
that drape over people's beds, indoor spraying and larval control.