Z is for zancudos or mosquitoes.
When I lived in the US, mosquitoes were just a normal part of summer....annoying but manageable. But here in Nicaragua it's another story. Mosquitoes are carriers of serious illnesses like dengue fever and malaria. Thankfully, Nicaragua tries really hard to control their numbers and promote education about how they breed. During mosquito season they pass frequently fumigating neighborhoods. And when a dengue fever case is reported to the local Health Center, they send a truck to fumigate every house in the neighborhood. They also send kids from public schools door-to-door every month to dump chemicals in standing water to kill larvae.
I've learned that the mosquito who causes these illnesses is a black/white variety whose larvae can survive dry for months. When it gets wet again, it comes to live and hatches. Dengue fever is spread when a mosquito bites an infected person, and then the next person they bite contracts the fever. It's often referred to as "bone-breaking fever" or as a really bad flu that lasts for weeks. There are two types: normal dengue and hemorrhagic dengue which can be fatal. Since I've been here I've known two families who've lost children to the hemorrhagic variety.
Malaria is noted by having the good day/bad day pattern. One day you'll have fever with all its symptoms, the next day you're fine, the next day back to fever.
How to protect yourself? Sleep with a mosquito net, avoid perfumes, and during mosquito season wear repellent in the evening and at night.