Most of the time, a mosquito bite is nothing more than a minor irritant that swells up, itches something fierce, then fades and is quickly forgotten. That is, unless that mosquito is carrying a bug of its own.

Mosquitoes kill more than a million people across the globe every year through the transmission of dangerous viruses and parasites. A female mosquito lights on an infected person or animal, sucks up the diseased blood and passes it on to the next victim she bites.

As simply as that, mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis, malaria and even canine heartworms can spread throughout a population. The infected don’t even realize they’ve picked up a disease until the symptoms begin to show.

According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, “for the first time in nearly 50 years endemic cases of dengue fever and malaria are in the United States. Improvements in world transportation now allow a person infected with a disease to be on a different continent each day. This enables mosquito-borne diseases to travel from one nation to the next.”

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