Mosquitoes are blood-sucking insects that are attracted to
moisture, sweat, heat, and carbon dioxide. They are attracted to some people more
than others. Mosquitoes most often feed from dusk to dawn.
Mosquitoes carry disease in some parts of the world. They are
carriers of the West Nile virus and may transmit the virus to humans and
animals. West Nile virus causes an infection that can lead to inflammation of
the brain (encephalitis) or the tissues surrounding it and the spinal cord
(meningitis). Mosquitoes in Africa as well as other parts of the world may
carry malaria or yellow fever. Mosquitoes do not carry
the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Symptoms of a mosquito bite may last for hours, days, or even
weeks. Common symptoms that begin immediately are:
A swollen lump
Staying indoors at dawn and dusk and in the early evening, coupled
with wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors, may lower the
risk for mosquito bites. Insect repellent, applied sparingly to skin and
sprayed on clothing, may keep mosquitoes away.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine