April 30, 2014, 8:27 a.m.
Human beings may be among the deadliest animals on the planet – but there is another species which is even more bloodthirsty than us.
The humble mosquito tops a list of killer beasts – and is apparently responsible for the deaths of a whopping 725,000 humans every year.
Declaring it Mosquito Week, Gates writes:
“What makes mosquitoes so dangerous? Despite their innocuous-sounding name—Spanish for 'little fly'—they carry devastating diseases. The worst is malaria, which kills more than 600,000 people every year; another 200 million cases incapacitate people for days at a time. It threatens half of the world’s population and causes billions of dollars in lost productivity annually. Other mosquito-borne diseases include dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis.”
The billionaire philanthropist also uses the post to publicise his recent trip to Indonesia to learn about new ways of combatting dengue fever and about advances in fighting malaria.
Malaria kills an estimated 627,000 people every year, mainly children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa.
The species, which spreads tropical diseases including dengue fever and the chikungunya virus usually occurs in tropical regions of Africa, Asia and South America.
Scientists led by Dr Cyril Caminade, from the University of Liverpool, used climate models to predict how changing conditions might affect Asian tiger mosquito distribution.
They wrote in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface: "Mosquito climate suitability has significantly increased over the southern UK, northern France, the Benelux, parts of Germany, Italy, Sicily and the Balkan countries."
The research shows that parts of the UK could become hot-spots of Asian tiger mosquito activity between 2030 and 2050.
The mosquito has been introduced into Europe from Asia via goods shipments, mainly used tyres and bamboo.