By now we’ve all heard of Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” a week-long series of television programs dedicated to the sometimes deadly fish. But Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates says we should be paying more attention to “Mosquito Week” — after all, Gates says, mosquitoes kill far more people each year than sharks.
There’s no denying that part of Shark Week’s appeal involves the deadliness of giant fish like the Great White. But it’s believed that sharks only kill about a dozen people each year. Meanwhile, mosquitoes — which can carry deadly illnesses like dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis, and malaria — kill more than half a million people every twelve months.
Overall, there are about 200 million malaria cases reported each year and each case can involve a long illness incapacitating sufferers for days at a time. Gates says this represents billions of dollars in lost human productivity — it’s something you can’t connect to even the deadliest sharks.
An so, in an effort to draw attention to the deadly mosquito, Gates is hosting a Mosquito Week on his website, The Gates Notes. In recent days Gates has posted a number of blog articles on the subject, from “What it Feels Like to Have Malaria,” to “Why I Gave My Blood to Defeat Dengue.”
“Considering their impact, you might expect mosquitoes to get more attention than they do,” Gates noted on his website. “Sharks kill fewer than a dozen people every year and in the U.S. they get a week dedicated to them on TV every year.”
For the record, there are more than 2,500 different species of mosquito and not a single region in the world — with the exception of Antarctica — is spared this deadly little beast. Even scarier, during peak breeding seasons there are often more mosquitoes on the planet than virtually any other animal.