Celebrate World Health Day This April 7

World Health Day was started in 1950 to celebrate the formation of the World Health Organization (WHO). Held annually on April 7, each year World Health Day spotlights a different public health issue.

This year, World Health Day is focused on vector-borne diseases that more than half of the worldwide population is at risk for catching.

Here are the details on this year’s World Health Day.

World Health Day 2014

What are Vector-Borne Diseases?

Each year, 1 million people worldwide die from vector-borne diseases. These illnesses are spread by insects and ticks carrying a disease-bearing pathogen, and they can be difficult to prevent due to challenges in controlling the insects and ticks (called vectors) and stopping transmission of the pathogens. Some notable vector borne diseases include:

  • Schistosomiasis. Spread by water snails, this is the most prevalent vector-borne disease, impacting 240 million people worldwide. Children living near unclean water are at highest risk. Schistosomiasis causes anemia and impacts one’s ability to learn.
  • Test Smartly Labs | World Health DayMalaria. As the most deadly vector-borne disease, malaria causes almost 1.2 million deaths worldwide annually. Caused by a parasite transmitted to humans by a mosquito, malaria attacks your red blood cells and affects the liver, leading to chills, fever, and even anemia.
  • Dengue. Prevalent in tropical and sub-tropical areas, dengue infections reach 50 – 100 million worldwide each year. It was recently reported in Portugal, China, and Florida. The disease is caused by a virus transmitted by the Aedes Argypti mosquito, and recently its spread has increased in urban areas.
  • Lyme disease. Transmitted by black-legged ticks, the virus that causes lyme disease attacks the central nervous system, causing neurological issues.
  • Yellow fever. Usually found in tropical regions in South America and sub-Saharan Africa, yellow fever is also carried by mosquitoes. The bugs transmit the yellow fever virus, which impacts the immune system and results in fever, chills, muscle pain, and nausea.

Preventing Vector-Borne Diseases

Vector-borne diseases are preventable, and there are many steps that individuals and communities can take to safeguard against infection. These will vary greatly depending on the ecology, culture, and local epidemiology of each disease, but include:

  • The use of insecticide-treated bednets to help prevent malaria. These should be checked for holes regularly and replaced every 2 – 3 years.
  • Indoor spraying of insecticides to combat mosquitoes.
  • Monitoring water storage containers and water bodies to check for mosquito larvae and freshwater snails.
  • Better waste management, including household garbage, plastic bottles, unused storage containers, and car tires, all of which can be breeding grounds for vectors.
  • Personal protective measures, such as applying insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved, light colored clothing, and tucking pant legs into your shoes.
  • Avoiding known breeding grounds for vectors, such as wooded areas with tall grasses for ticks.
  • Consulting a doctor before traveling to areas with known vector-borne diseases.
  • Getting vaccinated against vector-borne diseases and supporting the development of new vaccines and medical treatments.

In honor of World Health Day, Test Smartly Labs reminds you to stay up-to-date on all your vaccinations, not just those you need for foreign travel. If you’re unsure about your vaccination records, a titers test at your local Test Smartly Labs can determine whether your level of immunity is sufficient or whether you need to revisit your vaccinations. To get started, locate your nearest wellness-certified Test Smartly Labs today!

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