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What is the Most Common Mosquito-borne Viral Disease? | Affinity Health

Affinity Health is a leading provider of affordable medical insurance. See more on the world’s most dangerous predator: a mosquito.


Mosquitoes are common flying insects. They are in the same category as flies, fleas, and ticks. They are also called arthropods. Mosquitoes may appear worthless as they are unpleasant to humans. But did you know that they play an important role in ecology?


Mosquitoes contribute to the food chain. They feed fish larvae, birds, bats, and frogs. Some species are also essential pollinators. But mosquitoes can function as hosts or vectors for infections. Mosquitoes spread viruses, bacteria, parasites, and ectoparasites.


Since it’s World Malaria Day on April 25, Affinity Health is highlighting mosquitoes.

Learn More: World Malaria Day

What are Mosquito-borne Diseases?

The following is a list of diseases transmitted from mosquitos to humans. Not all these diseases are from South Africa. But many are common in neighbouring countries. This puts South African travellers at risk of infection.


Malaria spreads to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Malaria is prevalent in sections of three of South Africa’s nine provinces:

  • Limpopo
  • Mpumalanga
  • KwaZulu-Natal

The first signs of malaria are:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills – these often show 10–15 days after the infective mosquito bite. Chills may be mild and difficult to diagnose. If left untreated, Malaria can develop into severe sickness and death within 24 hours.

10% of the population (about 4.9 million people) is at risk of developing Malaria.

“Malaria kills more people than any other type of cancer. It kills millions of people worldwide,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

Zika Virus

Humans contract Zika through mosquitoes in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. As with other mosquito-borne viruses, Zika spreads via the Aedes genus of mosquitoes.


Zika rarely causes symptoms, and individuals may be unaware they have the infection. Additionally, the virus is rarely fatal and rarely causes serious illness. But it may cause issues during pregnancy. The virus can cause congenital abnormalities.

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever is another virus transmitted by mosquitos of the Aedes genus. The virus is especially prevalent in warm and tropical settings. One of four distinct serotypes causes Dengue virus infections. Symptoms vary in severity according to the serotype that causes the disease.

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Internal bleeding
  • Low platelet count.
  • There is no cure for dengue fever. But clinicians can manage symptoms through supportive care.
Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is a high-risk virus that is preventable by immunisation. But it can spread across a wide network. The virus can be transmitted by mosquitos belonging to the genus Aedes or Haemagogus. It can infect people and monkeys, depending on the transmission cycle.


Yellow fever is difficult to detect in its early stages. It’s also difficult to detect in certain individuals. The condition can quickly deteriorate.

West Nile Virus

The genus called Culex spreads the West Nile virus. West Nile virus has been a serious issue for a growing number of countries. This is since its 1937 discovery on the African continent.


80% of infected individuals are asymptomatic. But this zoonotic virus can cause a range of symptoms. These include fevers and headaches to severe neurological complications such as encephalitis.

Chikungunya Virus

Chikungunya virus was found in Tanzania in 1952. It occurred in isolated and sporadic outbreaks in Africa and Asia for the next 50 years. Since 2004, Chikungunya has spread fast throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Over 60 countries recognise the virus.


Chikungunya virus can cause various health problems. These include fever, headache, and an increased risk of joint pain, fatigue, and red eyes. Some chikungunya virus symptoms overlap with those of the Zika and dengue viruses. This poses the risk of misdiagnosis.

Affinity Health recommends these 6 tips for survival:

Prevention is always preferable to treatment. A few easy steps can go a long way toward protecting you and your family from mosquito-borne diseases. These steps include:

  1. Book appointments with your doctor six weeks before travelling to areas with mosquitoes. Take your medication.
  1. Wear protective clothing such as long sleeves and pants when outdoors.
  1. Cover mattresses with mosquito netting. Nets are small, carefully woven, and extremely effective. They keep mosquitoes out of your tent or bed throughout the night. Regularly inspect nets for tears. Bring another net with you on your holiday as a backup.
  1. Use citronella candles or a citronella-based bug repellent.
  1. Use mosquito traps outdoors.
  1. Apply insect repellents to the skin. Blankets coated with insect repellent are helpful.

When To Consult With Your Family Doctor

Many people who contract diseases due to a mosquito bite will develop no symptoms. This means that they may be unaware that they are carrying a virus. If they manifest, they typically do so within 3 to 15 days of the bite. A person may show symptoms following exposure to a mosquito-borne area. Thereafter, they must consult a physician.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance. We offer a wide range of cover options at affordable rates. Medical cover includes access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to always give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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