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How risky are mosquito bites?

Answer by:
Louise Chang, MD

Internist, WebMD Medical Expert
Medical Editor, WebMD

A mosquito bite can mean much more than a few days of itching. For some people, they can cause severe allergic reactions.

Mosquitoes also transmit illness. The West Nile virus made its first appearance in the U.S. in 1999. That year, New York confirmed 62 cases and seven deaths. By 2011, the number of cases had escalated substantially. In 2011 alone, the CDC reported 690 cases of West Nile throughout the U.S. and 43 deaths.

Malaria is another mosquito-transmitted disease. “We don’t think about it, but a million people worldwide die of malaria every year,” says Greg Baumann, senior scientist with the National Pest Management Association Inc.