Winning the Ancient Conflict Between Man and Mosquito – GFA World Report Part 1

Winning the Ancient Conflict Between Man and Mosquito – GFA World Report Part 1 April 8, 2022

WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA World and affiliates like Gospel for Asia Canada) founded by KP Yohannan, issued this 1st part of a Special Report update on winning the ancient conflict against the mosquito and vector-borne diseases.

GFA World, founded by KP Yohannan, issued this Special Report on winning the ancient conflict against the mosquito and vector-borne diseases.

It’s small, this little welt on my hand or the bump behind my ear. The welts come and go and are a minor annoyance during the spring, summer and fall when I am gardening or when my husband and I host outside gatherings or when the grandchildren come to play and explore the path through the woods their grandfather cut for them. These seasons are when mosquitoes buzz in the air and wait to strike humans for the blood the females need to nourish their eggs.

Malaria parasite
Feeding on a human arm, this Anopheles albimanus mosquito is a vector of malaria, so mosquito control is critically important for reducing the incidence of malaria. Photo by James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It is a little distraction; I bat away the pesky critter or slap it when it sucks my blood, causing a splat on my own skin. The bump caused by this bite swells and itches, but I’ve learned the more I scratch, the itchier the welt becomes.

When a mosquito bite breaks the skin, my immune system sets off a warning; the mini-wound is instantly flushed with increased blood flow and my white-blood-cell count elevates slightly. This reaction causes the swelling; it is really an allergic reaction. On the micro-scale of things, this physiological response is instantaneous. For most of us, a mosquito bite, or multiple bites, is an annoyance causing us to itch, then scratch, and finally, if the bites continue to annoy, seek some kind of salve to soothe and a repellant to prevent.

In some places in the world, however, a mosquito is no small thing. It can bring on fevers, illnesses, work displacement and even death—causing thousands of families sorrow.

In my original special report for Gospel for Asia titled It Takes Only One Mosquito, I explored the impact of faith based organizations on modern medical approaches. This update explores the ancient and ongoing battle between man and mosquitos which transmit vector-borne diseases.

Children participate in a class on malaria and how to protect themselves
Malawi: Education on malaria prevention can be taught in schools as children participate in a class on malaria and how to protect themselves. Photo by WHO / S. Hollyman

Know Your Enemy or Yield to Vector-borne Diseases

Knowing your enemy is well-known advice attributed to Sun Tzu’s ancient Asian manual The Art of War, which is part of a syllabus for potential military-service candidates. Its recommendation for warriors is certainly appropriate for the equally ancient conflict that exists in many parts of the world between Man and Mosquito. In reality, where I live the welt on my hand may be small and annoying but for whole population sectors around the world, the negative impact of mosquitoes and the diseases they may transmit is overwhelmingly huge.

So let’s take Sun Tzu’s advice and get to know our enemy:

The most common, and most dangerous, are the various species in the Culex, Anopheles and Aedes.

Mosquitoes can live in almost any environment, with the exception of extreme cold. They favor forests, marshes, tall-grass and locales, and ground that is wet at least part of the year. Incredibly, Arctic tundra is a great breeding-place for mosquitoes—the soil that has been frozen all winter thaws in the warming weather, rendering these vast acres huge mosquito incubators. These insects must have water to survive (breeding can occur in as little as one inch of standing water), so areas that border ponds, lakes or puddles are essential to their spread and survival.

Categorized among the group known as “blood-feeding arthropods” which also includes ticks and fleas, mosquitoes are responsible for a wide range of diseases that result in various symptoms such as fevers, rashes, aches and pains, vomiting and death. The World Health Organization classifies such illnesses as “vector-borne diseases,” which are “human illnesses caused by parasites, viruses and bacteria that are transmitted by vectors.”

Vectors can cause numerous diseases in humans
WHO/HTM/GVCR/2017.01 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO)

The WHO’s report on vector-borne diseases
includes these stunning facts:

  • Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17 percent of all infectious diseases, causing more than 700,000 deaths annually.
  • Malaria is a parasitic infection transmitted by Anopheline It causes an estimated 219 million cases globally and results in more than 400,000 deaths every year. Most of the deaths occur in children under the age of 5 years.
  • Dengue is the most prevalent viral infection transmitted by Aedes More than 3.9 billion people in more than 129 countries are at risk of contracting dengue, with an estimated 96 million symptomatic cases and an estimated 40,000 deaths every year.

“Other diseases transmitted by vectors include chikungunya, Zika, yellow fever, West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis (all transmitted by mosquitoes) and tick-borne encephalitis (transmitted by ticks).”

Other Odd Facts in the War on Mosquitoes

Mosquito-borne diseases
Zika virus, which has caused thousands of infants in Brazil alone to be born with abnormally small heads and neurological problems, joins a suite of emerging and long-established diseases transmitted throughout the world by mosquitoes. The actual disease-causing agents are the viruses, bacteria or parasites that the mosquitoes pick up when they feed on the blood of an infected person or animal. Photo by UC Davis

These vectors can transmit infectious pathogens between humans, or from animal to humans. Mosquitoes, as mentioned, are blood-sucking insects; when doing so, they can ingest pathogens from a host and transfer it to another host once that pathogen begins to replicate. Often, once a vector becomes infected, it is capable of transmitting the pathogen for the rest of its life, becoming a flying, one-insect, disease-delivery machine.

According to the WHO, 700,000 people die each year from malaria, dengue, Japanese encephalitis and other vector-borne diseases.

“The burden of these diseases is highest in tropical and subtropical areas, and they disproportionately affect the poorest populations,” writes the WHO.

Risk, Burden, Mortality of Vector Borne Diseases
Photo by WHO/HTM/GVCR/2017.01 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO)

“Since 2014, major outbreaks of dengue, malaria, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika have afflicted populations, claimed lives, and overwhelmed health systems in many other countries. Other [vector-borne] diseases … cause chronic suffering, life-long morbidity, disability and occasional stigmatization.”

Perhaps that little bump growing on my hand after a summer mosquito attack is not such a little thing after all.

Mother and child resting under mosquito net
This woman and her child in Uttar Pradesh, India, can function without fear of insect bites during the day, as well as sleep safely each night, due to the protective mosquito net they received as a Christmas gift from GFA World.

Mosquito Abatement: Part of Caring for the Least of These

Boy riding bicycle carying mosquito nets
Mosquitos are so dangerous because a single bite can transmit malaria or other parasitic diseases. This boy in South Asia is seen riding home with a new mosquito nets that he was given through a Gospel for Asia (GFA World) gift distribution. These nets are simple, cost-effective solutions to keep families safe from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

In light of what we know now about that enemy, the mosquito, is it any wonder that mosquito-abatement programs sponsored by faith-based organizations like Gospel for Asia (GFA World) are one of the evidences that fulfill this Gospel imperative: “Love your neighbor as yourself”?

I love the story on GFA’s website reporting how Gospel for Asia (GFA) workers distributed some 9,000 mosquito nets to students living in hostels, now away from their families. Two nets were given to each student, one for them to use and one to send back home.

“I am thankful for the mosquito net,” said Marcus, a ninth-grade student. “I am from a poor family, and there is no one to meet my needs.”

On a broader scale, GFA World has delivered nets to thousands of families in need and held awareness training and awareness programs in many affected areas. In Odisha, a state greatly affected by various vector-borne , Gospel for Asia (GFA) workers led mosquito awareness programs and gave nets to 2,050 impoverished families, including people at a district medical hospital. In the tea-growing state of Assam, Gospel for Asia (GFA) workers conducted awareness training about the need for prevention, distributing 2,000 nets to tea-garden employees.

To date, Gospel for Asia (GFA World) has distributed more than 1,300,000 mosquito nets in malaria-prone areas of South Asia to protect people from life-ending vector-borne diseases.

In some places in the world, a mosquito is no small thing. It can bring on fevers, illnesses, work displacement and even death—causing thousands of families sorrow.

The world’s largest grassroots campaign to protect people from malaria is the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign. Aiming to be the generation that defeats malaria, Nothing But Nets brings together UN partners, advocates and organizations worldwide to raise awareness, funds and voices to protect vulnerable families from malaria, given that every two minutes a child dies from malaria.

Mosquito nets, as part of a general abatement program in many countries of the world, overcome one of the major deterrents to all of the above: the small, seemingly innocuous welt on the hand, behind the ear, on the ankle or calf. A mosquito bite.

Give Mosquito Nets

Learn how to your gift protects families in Asia from vector-borne diseases.

Read the rest of Gospel for Asia’s Special Report: Winning the Ancient Conflict Between Man and Mosquito: Know Your Enemy or Succumb to Vector-borne Diseases — Part 2

This Special Report originally appeared on

Learn more by reading this special report from Gospel for Asia: Mosquito-Driven Scourge Touches Even Developed NationsMalaria Alone Claims 400,000 Lives Per Year

Click here, to read more blogs on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

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