The body can be primed to fight mosquito-borne diseases
NORBERTO DUARTE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Humans can’t easily protect themselves from the most dangerous species on Earth. The predator slips invisibly into homes, quietly stalks its prey and bites before a victim knows what happened. There’s little chance of escape.
The attacker is Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that has, over time, developed a taste for people. It’s a city dweller that hovers in undisturbed crannies and can breed in a mere capful of water. Unlike some mosquitoes, which help themselves to a good meal and fly off satisfied, Ae. aegypti is a serial biter that can work through an entire family in minutes.
The lingering itch isn’t the problem; it’s the saliva transferred with each bite that could be loaded with thousands of virus particles, ready to multiply in the human body with little to stop it.
In the early 1900s, yellow fever, named for its hallmark jaundice and temperature spikes, was the most feared consequence of an Aedes bite.