Health and Healthcare Systems

Mosquitoes kill more people every day than sharks do in a century

A female Aedes aegypti  mosquito is shown in this 2006 Center for Disease Control (CDC) photograph released to Reuters on October 30, 2013. The mosquito, known to carry such potentially deadly diseases as dengue and yellow fever, has been detected for the first time in California, raising concerns among public health officials and prompting intense efforts to prevent the spread of the potentially deadly diseases. REUTERS/James Gathany/CDC/Handout via Reuters (UNITED STATES - Tags: HEALTH) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - GM1E9AV0FE001

One the world's deadliest animals. Image: REUTERS/James Gathany/CDC/Handout via Reuters

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Jaws might not have had the same cultural impact if it had featured a tiny, buzzing insect in lieu of a great white shark.

But, as Bill Gates explained for last year's World Mosquito Day, we really should be much more worried about mosquitoes than sharks.

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Mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue, and Zika, make them one of the deadliest animals in the world, responsible for millions of deaths.

Indeed, as the below chart shows, mosquitoes kill more people every day than sharks have in an entire century.

Image: Gates Notes

A report released earlier this year also suggests that climate change is only going to make the problem worse. The range of two key disease-spreading species - Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus - is set to expand significantly by the middle of this century.

“If no action is taken to reduce the current rate at which the climate is warming, pockets of habitat will open up across many urban areas with vast amounts of individuals susceptible to infection," explained Moritz Kraemer, co-author of the report and an infectious disease scientist at Boston Children’s Hospital and the University of Oxford.

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What is the World Economic Forum doing about epidemics?

World Mosquito Day is held on 20 August every year – the anniversary of Sir Ronald Ross's discovery that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1902 for his work on the disease.

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