After JHU helped create buzz, the mosquito emoji is coming this summer - Baltimore


Feb. 8, 2018 10:43 am

After JHU helped create buzz, the mosquito emoji is coming this summer

Hopkins and the Gates Foundation proposed it for public health communication. The emoji was approved by the Unicode Consortium after a lengthy approval process.

The type of mosquito known to transmit Zika virus, Aedes aegypti.

(Photo by Flickr user Sanofi Pasteur, used under a Creative Commons license)

The Unicode Consortium, better known as the governing body of emoji, finalized 157 new characters this week that will start appearing as soon as August.

There’s a woman superhero, a pirate flag and a lobster.

A mosquito is also among them, and it could have big public health implications.

According to the JHU Hub, the mosquito was proposed last year by Johns Hopkins’ Center for Communication Programs and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The idea is to make it easier for people to communicate about mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and Zika.

“A mosquito emoji would be a crucial addition to the current set of insect emoji, because it would give health professionals a quick way to communicate with the public about the presence of mosquitoes, and allow researchers to promote their work around mosquito-borne diseases more easily via social media,” the proposal states.

The mosquito emoji. (Image by Aphelandra Messer)

The proposal was authored by JHU CCP Digital Communications Manager Marla Shaivitz and Jeff Chertak, a senior program officer for malaria advocacy and communications at the Gates Foundation.


NPR reported that the process involved a “nerve-wracking” presentation to the counsel of big tech leaders that control the fate of emoji. But now it’s through.

When it gets to the public, the emoji could take on other uses, but Shaivitz and Chertak are okay with that. After all, mosquitoes can be annoying.

“A mosquito emoji would be widely used by the general public, who are faced with the nuisance of mosquitoes in their daily lives,” the proposal states. “People may use the mosquito emoji in electronic conversations with friends to complain about the prevalence of mosquitoes or bug bites, such as when camping or hiking.”

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