New Discovery documentary sounds alert on the mosquito risks to global health


A still from Mosquito shows an aedes aegypti, an insect capable of carrying multiple diseases.
A still from Mosquito shows an aedes aegypti, an insect capable of carrying multiple diseases. PHOTO: COURTESY OF DISCOVERY

LOS ANGELES (WP) - Most likely, a great white shark is not going to kill you. Neither is a serial killer, terrorist, grizzly bear or a lot of other nightmare-inducing predators.

What should be keeping you up at night is much smaller and a lot more common.

The new Discovery documentary Mosquito, which airs on Thursday, provides plenty of reasons why you should be alarmed by the faintest buzzing sounds.

"Everything is in place for the perfect storm of disease," narrator Jeremy Renner says during the film. "And yet almost no one sees the dark clouds gathering."

Are you scared yet? You should be.

The tiny blood-suckers are the deadliest animals in the world, killing roughly 750,000 people annually.

The movie shows the human side of the worldwide problem, with the story of a Brazilian mother whose son has microcephaly after she contracted Zika while pregnant; an African boy suffering from malaria; a New York woman who is permanently disabled after a bout of West Nile; and a husband and wife in Florida who have quarantined themselves in their house, in fear of Zika, after she became pregnant.

Scarier, these awful stories may become more common for a number of reasons, one of which is globalisation.

As the movie explains, it took three centuries for dengue fever, yellow fever and malaria to make their way from Africa to the Americas and only an additional 16 years for three other mosquito-borne illnesses - West Nile, Zika and Chikungunya - to traverse the globe.