World Health Day
Photo: WHO/B. Chandra
April 7 is marked by the United Nations as World Health Day and this year’s theme is vector-borne diseases. These are diseases that come from mosquito, tick and flea bites, which pass on viruses, parasites and bacteria to humans.
Most of us have probably heard of vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue, but there are many including: kala azar, Japanese encephalitis, Lyme disease, yellow fever, Filariasis, Chickungunya, Chagas’ disease and even the plague. According to the UN, one billion people are infected each year and for one million of those infected, these diseases are fatal. In 2012 malaria affected over 600,000 people, while dengue alone affects 50 to 100 million people globally every year.
The UN Health Agency also states that dengue is the fastest growing vector-borne disease in the world. It can be found in about 100 countries. Some of those countries include: China, Portugal and the US state of Florida.
Anyone can be affected by vector-borne diseases and prevention methods often include store-bought insect repellants that are laden with chemicals, but there are more natural alternatives. Some natural ways to ward off mosquitoes for instance include: neem eucalyptus, lemon, camphor, tea tree, lavender, citronella, and mint oils. Also you can plant some trees and shrubs that are known to keep mosquitoes at bay, including some of the sources of the oils mentioned previously and shrubs like Tulsi, flowers like marigold and planting citronella grass.
Keeping things like drains, potholes, containers and open spaces clear of standing water is important for preventing the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes to grow.
Wearing long sleeves and pants are also ways to prevent insect bites from mosquitoes, ticks and fleas.