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Don’t Let Mosquito-Borne Illness Ruin Summer Travel

Illness carried by mosquitos can be dangerous. An expert tells us why and how to protect yourself.

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CLEVELAND - If you’re traveling this summer, you’ll want to read up on mosquito transmitted diseases in the areas you plan to visit.

According to Emily Speranza, PhD, researcher with Cleveland Clinic, diseases carried by mosquitoes can be dangerous.

"Mosquitoes completely outpace any other organism as far as causing deaths in the world,” said Dr. Speranza. “And that’s not just viruses transmitted by mosquitoes, but they also transmit things like malaria.”

Travel destinations near the equator are hot spots for mosquitoes that carry viruses like dengue, Zika and chikungunya.

That includes the Caribbean and South America.

There are also northern mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus, the most common mosquito-borne disease in the United States.

Most people recover from West Nile, but about one in 150 cases are serious and sometimes fatal, according to the CDC.

Dr. Speranza studies mosquito transmitted diseases and the immune system.

She said most people bitten by a disease-carrying mosquito won’t have major symptoms, but others become very ill.

Doctors still don’t know why that is, but the efficiency of your immune system likely plays a role.

“As you age, your immune system gets just a little bit slower and we have been able to show that the speed at which your immune system can respond might play a big role in its ability to disseminate,” she said.

If you’re outdoors this summer and mosquitoes are biting, Dr. Speranza recommends using bug spray and other deterrents to avoid bites and potential illness.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CleClinicNews. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

Editor’s Note: Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request.

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