Mosquitoes are known carriers of several viruses, transmitting disease and parasites to people and animals that come in contact with them via painful bites. While some of these diseases don’t pose serious health risks, others can be deadly (over one million people die each year from mosquito-borne diseases, according to the AMCA!). Here are 3 common mosquito diseases you should be cautious of this summer:

Zika Virus

What is it?

First discovered in 1947, Zika, a mosquito-borne virus, originated in Uganda, Africa. Shortly after, outbreaks of Zika were detected throughout tropical areas in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands, according to the CDC. Now, mosquitoes carrying Zika have been identified in many countries, including the U.S.

How do you get it?

Primarily transmitted by the Aedes species, infected mosquitoes can spread Zika to humans and animals through bites. These mosquitoes are active during daytime and evening hours. Zika can also be sexually transmitted from one infected partner to another, from pregnant women to unborn babies, and through blood transfusions.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptom of Zika include rash, fever, joint and muscle pain, headache, and/or red eyes and can last for up to a week, but many infected won’t show any symptoms at all. Zika is dangerous specifically for pregnant women as it can cause birth defects, a condition called Microcephaly, in fetuses. This can cause brain and eye defects, hearing deficits, and impair growth.

How do you prevent it?

Because there’s currently no vaccine to treat and/or cure Zika, the best way to protect yourself is by preventing mosquito bites. Keep arms and legs covered in loose, light-colored clothing when outdoors and use insect repellent. Repair or replace missing or damaged window and door screens at home and keep them closed as often as possible. Control mosquito populations around your home by getting rid of adult mosquitoes as well as reducing mosquito reproduction with home mosquito treatments from a licensed pest control company. Most companies offer eco-friendly mosquito treatment options that are family and pet-friendly, if having your yard treated with chemicals is a concern. If pregnant, the CDC advises to avoid traveling to countries with known Zika outbreaks  – see the list here – and refrain from unprotected sex.

What if you have it?

Check with your doctor to get tested. To minimize symptoms, drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest, reduce fever or pain with over-the-counter pain medicines (avoid aspirin), and prevent additional mosquito bites. If you’re bitten by a mosquito once infected, you can pass Zika to other mosquitoes, who will then infect someone else – increasing the spread of Zika. If you’re pregnant and suspect you have Zika, contact your physician immediately.

West Nile Virus

What is it?

The first occurrences of West Nile in the U.S emerged in New York in 1999 with 62 confirmed cases and 7 human deaths, according to the AMCA. West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus carried by many different mosquitoes, one of the most common being the Culex species.

How do you get it?

West Nile is most often transferred from birds to mosquitoes, and then from mosquitoes to humans and animals through bites.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may develop 3-14 days after bitten. Typically only 20% of people infected with West Nile virus will experience symptoms which include headache, body aches, and fever and usually last a week or less. Rarely, the virus develops into West Nile encephalitis which can cause high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, muscle weakness, convulsions, paralysis, and sometimes death. This is most common in people over the age of 50.

How do you prevent it?

Like Zika, there is no vaccine for West Nile virus. Prevent the virus by preventing mosquito bites.

What if you have it?

See your doctor. A blood test can determine if you’re infected with West Nile virus. If symptoms are severe, hospitalization may be necessary.

Dengue

What is it?

Dengue, a mosquito-borne virus, is the leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics according to the CDC (400 million people infected each year). While it rarely occurs in the U.S., it’s important to be aware of dengue while traveling to popular tourist destinations like Puerto Rico, parts of Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific islands. Dengue is carried by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito species which are found throughout the world.

How do you get it?

Mosquitoes carrying dengue infect humans through bites and infected humans can infect other mosquitoes, when bitten.

What are the symptoms?

Most cases of dengue in the U.S. were acquired through travel abroad. Symptoms include severe headache, high fever, eye pain, joint pain, muscle pain, and rash. Severe cases can cause stomach pain, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and bleeding from gums and/or nose.

How do you prevent it?

Mosquito bite prevention is key when traveling to areas with known dengue outbreaks as there is no vaccine for dengue or medications to treat it. It’s especially critical for people with dengue to avoid mosquito bites so the disease isn’t spread from person to another mosquito.

What if you have it?

If symptoms are mild, lots of rest and fluids are recommended. For more severe symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately.