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World Mosquito Day - August 20th 2011

By Email author - Thu, 18 Aug 2011 12:40:00 GMT
World Mosquito Day - August 20th 2011

On August 20th, people everywhere acknowledge World Mosquito Day. But perhaps it's the first time you've heard of it? It was for me, and when I mentioned it to my daughter, she asked, appalled, "why do we celebrate mosquitoes?"

Despite the name and what it seems to imply, we don't celebrate the flying bearer of disease. Rather we celebrate the day in 1897 that a British doctor, Ronald Ross, discovered that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans, a discovery that earned him a Nobel Prize for Medicine.

We celebrate the discovery because knowing how malaria is transmitted is key to stopping its spread and eventually eliminating the disease.

In the United States, the National Malaria Eradication Program was started in 1947. In that year 15,000 cases of malaria were reported. In less than two years, over 4.54 million houses were sprayed with insecticide and mosquito breeding sites such as in drainage systems were destroyed. In 1950, only 2,000 cases were reported, and the following year, the disease was deemed eliminated.

In Africa however, more than a century after Ross' discovery, "A child dies every 45 seconds as a result of malaria," Prof. Geoffrey Targett of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says in a 2010 video from Malaria No More UK.

But in some African countries such as Ethiopia, Rwanda and Eritrea, the use of bed nets and medicines have cut malaria deaths by over 50% in just a few years. You can donate a net through the U.N. Foundation's Nothing But Nets campaign.

Meanwhile, at home, we can do all sorts of things to mark World Mosquito Day. Not by celebrating the insects, but by, as I told my daughter, doing things that will eliminate them.

Here are some ideas to help you celebrate the day with your family, friends and community.

1. Make a mosquito trap.

The idea is to cut a soda bottle in two so that you get a funnel and a beaker. Cover the beaker portion with dark paper. Place a solution of warm water, sugar and yeast in it. This solution will release carbon dioxide which will attract the mosquitoes. Place the funnel portion on top of the beaker, wide side up, so that mosquitoes can enter through to the beaker but have a hard time exiting. There are many websites online that give instructions.

2. Take a walk.

Get neighbors together and walk through your neighborhood to spot possible breeding spots for mosquitoes. Old tires that store rainwater, clogged up canals, stuck up gutters. Just keep your eyes open and make sure you are well-covered in case you have to reach a spot to clear it out, you don't want to get bitten in the process.

3. Stand up and be heard.

Talk about how mosquitoes carry disease and how they can eliminated. Talk about World Mosquito Day. Raise awareness. Write about it in your blog. Make it your Facebook status. Tweet about it.

4. Volunteer.

Help those who need your help. Beyond malaria, mosquitoes also carry Arboviral Encephalitides, Dengue Fever, Rift Valley Fever and Yellow Fever. Find out if any of these are affecting people, specially children, near where you live. Find out how you can help.

5. Party and raise funds.

Have a party to raise funds for organizations battling mosquitoes or your local government health office. Breakfasts are also popular events.

So have a happy World Mosquito Day everyone. And maybe share a comment to let us know how you celebrated the day. It would be good to hear from you.

Top Image Credit: Anopheles mosquito ©

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