Know your tropical diseases

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on email

Dengue, Malaria, Lyme and Zika are all tropical diseases that spread mainly through insects. However, their effects on the human body vary. Although many may have heard of these diseases, it is important to know their differences.

Dengue

Dengue is a mosquito borne viral disease that is mainly prevalent in the tropical and subtropical climates of the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, and the Pacific Islands. It is a leading infection and cause of death in some Asian and Latin American countries.

Symptoms of the disease show up after 4 to 10 days after a mosquito bite infection, and include headaches, muscle and joint pain, vomiting, and swelling of glands. More serious dengue complications include bleeding, abdominal pain, and organ impairment.

No specific treatment exists for dengue, however many disease cases can be self-managed. Severe dengue involving the listed complications require medical care.

Photo: The Aedes aegypti mosquito which is capable of spreading the dengue and zika viruses

Malaria

Malaria is a mosquito borne illness caused by a parasite that is prevalent in Africa, South Asia, South America, and the Eastern Mediterranean region. The transmission of malaria through mosquitoes can occur during and after rainy seasons.   

Symptoms of malaria infection appear 10 days to 4 weeks after an infecting bite, and include fevers, chills, headaches, muscle fatigue, and nausea. If left untreated, malaria can cause complications like organ failure and breathing problems which can lead to death. Pregnant women and children are more likely to experience these malaria complications. 

The current treatment for malaria includes a combination of antimalarial medications that can fight and sometimes prevent an infection. No vaccine has been developed for malaria.

Lyme

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread to humans through bites of infected ticks. The disease is common in the United States and Europe.

Symptoms become evident about 7 days after being bit by an infected tick, especially by nymphs which are smaller immature ticks. These symptoms include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. Some, but not all cases, yield an expanding ring rash at the site of the tick bite.

Months after an infecting bite, a person may experience nerve pain, facial palsy, swollen joints, and inflammation of the brain. If diagnosed and treated early with antibiotics, patients usually have rapid and complete recovery. More aggressive antibiotic treatment is needed for late stage lyme disease.to

Zika

Zika is a mosquito borne virus documented in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific with the most recent outbreak occurring in Brazil in 2015. A person can also be infected by an infected person via sexual contact or contact with blood. 

Symptoms of Zika can appear from 3 to 14 days after infection, and can include fevers, rashes, muscle and joint pains, headaches, and conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye). While typically not fatal, Zika can cause complications in pregnant women and their fetuses. A newborn of an infected mother can have abnormally small heads (microcephaly). 

While there is no medical treatment to combat the infection, drinking fluids and seeking clinical care when needed can reduce complications. Avoiding areas of outbreaks or physical barriers like nets and clothing can also be protective.

While you are here, help us with

Access to Diagnostics

Much of today’s innovation is either not reaching or not suitable for people in developing countries.

Access to Essential Drugs

One third of children, women and men have no access to essential medicines, putting lives at risk.

Data to Improve Health

Faster and reactive systems to help provide lifesaving support to vulnerable communities.

Support our work. It only takes a minute but makes a world of difference!

With your help we can bring modern diagnostics and essential medicines to people in need, track disease outbreaks better and help prevent future pandemics.

Support the WoIDMo's work

We do not rely on government sponsorships to ensure that we can operate independently

Your support is what keeps us going

  • Share this page to help raise awareness
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on email
  • Sign up to receive emails with updates on our work

Follow us