Arthropod Infections: Types and Causes

Arboviral or Arthropod-borne Viral Diseases

Arthropod infections is a major concern globally. Developing countries are most affected. These infections are prone to occur in tropical countries. However, this will spread when the infected person travels to the non-infected area.

An arthropod is a member of the largest single animal phylum, consisting of organisms with segmented bodies, jointed legs, wings, and exoskeleton.

Arthropod infections become deadly dangerous infection if left untreated. Arthropod infections transmitted for pathogens like bacteria, viruses, etc. Mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, lice act as vector here. Arthropod-borne viruses are called as Arboviruses. As said above these infections are may be due to bacteria or viruses. So the treatment involves some course of antibiotics and vaccines for specific diseases.1 The transmission process is from human contact or from the mosquito bite.

The most effective prevention is

  • By wearing full cloths, it should cover bare skin.
  • Avoid outdoor activities in the evening.
  • Using mosquito net while sleeping.
  • Avoiding insects in a place where food is prepared and served.
  • Drain water from pool covers
  • Use landscaping to eliminate stagnant water in your surroundings.
  • Chlorinate the swimming pool

WHO has come up with the vaccines to treat and prevent this infection.

Plague:

A plague was one of the endemic disease caused by the bacteria “Yersinia pestis” usually found in the small mammals and fleas. This will be transmitted when the mosquitoes bite humans. The process is explained in the below picture.

Plague is of 3 forms

  1. Bubonic plague– bite from an infected flea
  2. Septicaemic plague– Direct contact with the infective materials through cracks, open wounds in the skin.
  3. Pneumonic plague (Most virulent and least common) – Person to person from infective droplets

The incubation period is 3 to 7 days. Care should be taken when the symptoms appear and diagnosed. If left untreated it is fatal.

Arthropod Infections

 Symptoms:

  • Sudden onset of Fever
  • Chill
  • Headache
  • Body ache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Generalized weakness

Treatment:

  • Antibiotics
  • Early diagnosis
  • Supportive therapy

Prevention:

  • Avoiding bitten by mosquitoes and fleas
  • Avoiding outdoor activities
  • Informing people when the zoonotic plague appears in the environment.
  • Precautions not to handle animals
  • Especially workers who are working with the tissues are advised to wear masks and gloves
  • Avoid direct contact with the patients.2

 

Malaria:

Malaria is a protozoal infection. 5 types of protozoa are

  1. Plasmodium vivax– Found in Asia and South America
  2. Plasmodium falciparum– Most common type responsible for the major malaria deaths worldwide and found in Africa
  3. Plasmodium malariae– Quite rare and found in Africa.
  4. Plasmodium Ovale– Uncommon and found in West Africa and it can remain in the liver without any symptoms for several; years.
  5. Plasmodium knowlesiVery rare and found in Southeast Asia.

Causes: Malaria is caused by the female anopheles mosquitoes commonly known as “night biting” mosquitoes.

Malaria might spread,

-When the Female anopheles mosquito bites the healthy person, it enters into bloodstream travels to the liver. The parasites multiply in RBC. Infected blood cells burst every 48 to 72 hours. At the time of bursting the person will feel fever, chill, and sweating.

-when a non-infected mosquito bites an infected human it carries the infected blood and the protozoal cycle in the mosquito body takes place.

Malaria will become severe when complicated symptoms appear like Elevated temperature, Perspiration, Weakness, enlarged spleen, etc.

This severe malaria manifests,

  • Severe anemia due to hemolysis
  • Hemoglobinuria due to hemolysis.
  • Low blood pressure caused by cardiovascular collapse
  • Cerebral malaria with abnormal behavior, Seizure, coma, and neurologic abnormalities.
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Hypoglycemia after quinine treatment.

 

Figure. 2 Life cycle of Malaria parasite.

 

File:Life Cycle of the Malaria Parasite.svg

Symptoms:

  • High fever
  • Moderate to high chill
  • Headache
  • Profuse sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Convulsions
  • Bloody stools
  • Anemia

Treatment:

  • Antimalarial (Mefloquine, Doxycycline, Atovaquone plus Proguyanil)

Prevention:

  • Basically avoiding mosquito bite.
  • Awareness of risk.
  • Antimalarial before going some regions based on your age, allergic conditions and previous health issues.
  • DEET insect repellants.

 

Filariasis:

Filariasis is also known as Elephantiasis.

Causes: It is caused by the nematode called “Wuchereria banchrofti”, anopheles mosquito act as vector (Carrier). When the infected mosquito bites the healthy person, the larvae microfilariae enter the lymph nodes and lymph vessels and grow as an adult and stay for years if untreated.

This should be diagnosed by taking a blood sample and a serological examination.

 

Image result for filariasis infection

Symptoms:

  • Swelling of legs
  • Local inflammation of the skin, lymph nodes, and lymph vessels.

Treatment:

  • Antiparasitic and antibiotics (Diethylcarbamazine)

Prevention:

  • Sleep in an air-conditioned room
  • Sleep under the mosquito net
  • Use of mosquito repellant
  • Annual treatment and taking the medicine that kills microfilariae.

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