Top Mosquito-Borne illnesses in the U.S. — MaKenna’s student essay

Top Mosquito-Borne illnesses in The U.S

I chose “top mosquito-borne illnesses in the U.S.” as my essay topic. I chose this topic because it aligns with my degree, medical laboratory sciences. With this degree, I will be working in a lab analyzing body tissues and body fluids for different diseases. In short, I will be a disease detective.

I am only aware of Malaria and West Nile Virus as a common mosquito-borne illness so I wanted to learn about more mosquito-borne diseases as it could potentially be useful to me further down the road in my career.

According to the CDC’s website, “mosquito-borne diseases are those spread by the bite of an infected mosquito,” (Mosquito-Borne Diseases). Some of the common mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S. include West Nile Virus, Zika Virus, and Chikungunya, (Public Health: U.S. Mosquito-Borne Diseases). Although Malaria is not currently a threat in the U.S., it was a problem before the 1950’s when it was eliminated from the country “due to large-scale mosquito control efforts and swamp drainage,” (Public Health: U.S. Mosquito-Borne Diseases).

First, the most common mosquito-borne illness in the United States is the West Nile Virus. It “entered the U.S. along the east coast in 1999 and has had serious ongoing implications for the rest of North America as it has spread across the country,” (Public Health: U.S. Mosquito-Borne Diseases).

mosquito bites.

The article stated that the most common mosquito’s that transmit this disease include the Culex pipiens, Culex tarsalis, and Culex Quinquefasciatus. This virus is most heavily concentrated in North America due to North American bird populations (mosquitos become infected when they bite an infected bird). Common symptoms are flu-like symptoms. In severe cases, the article said that the virus can lead to West Nile Encephalitis or Meningitis.

Tiger Mosquito

Another common mosquito-borne disease in the U.S. is Chikungunya. This virus is different from other mosquito-borne viruses because “mosquitos become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus,” (Public Health: U.S. Mosquito-Borne Diseases). West Nile Virus on the other hand has an animal reservoir, not human. A human reservoir grants this virus the ability to spread much quicker, especially in urban areas with larger populations according to the article. It was first found in America in 2013 “on islands in the Caribbean,” (Chikungunya virus). The article stated that symptoms usually show between 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. While the most common symptoms are fever and joint pain, others include headache, swelling, or rash. Sadly, there is no vaccine or medication for this virus. You have to let the virus run its course while getting plenty of sleep, drinking fluids, and talking to a healthcare provider for additional information (Chikungunya virus).

Although Zika virus cases were not reported in the US in 2018 and 2019, in 2015 and 2016 there was a large outbreak of Zika virus cases in America, (Zika Virus). The article states that the Zika virus can be transmitted from the Ae. Aegypti and Ae. Albopictus mosquitos. This mosquito is found in most of the mainland U.S. so the arrival of the Zika virus was inevitable when the outbreak began to occur in surrounding countries. These two mosquitos are most heavily concentrated in the south. The article talked about Florida being especially vulnerable due to a high volume of travelers from Zika-affected countries. The Florida governor was forced to declare “a public health emergency in four counties with travel-related cases of ZVI and ordered state officials to increase mosquito-control efforts,” (Zika virus). America began pouring resources into fighting the Zika virus in hope of curbing its incidence rates in the U.S.

Through my research for this essay, I learned ample new information that could help me in my future career. A lot of these mosquito-borne illnesses have similar symptoms, which could make it hard to diagnose. It is important for someone testing the infected person to understand the differences between the viruses so they know how to properly diagnose an infected person. This will help doctors to prescribe the correct course of treatment.

Author: MaKenna Liby

Purdue University

Work Cited

  • Fellner, C. (December 2016). Zika in America: The Year in Review. NCBI.
  • (March 21, 2016). Mosquito-Borne Diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved,from


  • (November 7, 2019). Zika Virus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • (September 19, 2019). Chikungunya virus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from

  • The VDCI Team. (August 14, 2018). Public Health: U.S. Mosquito-Borne Diseases [Quick Overview].

    Vector Disease Control International.

Student Scholarships

Every year Thrive Pest Control hosts an essay contest and the reward is a 1-year scholarship at a 4-year university in the United States. This blog post is one of those scholarships.