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Encephalitis - Mosquito-Borne Disease

Arboviral Encephalitides

In simple terms, arborviral refers to a disease that is transmitted by an arthropod such as a mosquito to a host, usually a human, bird or animal.  Learn more about the symptoms of encephalitis below.


Encephalitis, found in various forms such as St. Louis, Western Equine, LaCrosse, and Eastern Equine, is endemic to the United States and increasing in incidence.  Some of these encephalitides, like Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), are becoming more serious in their effects on humans, horses and birds.







What is LaCrosse Encephalitis?

Named for the Wisconsin location where it was discovered in 1963, LaCrosse Encephalitis (LAC) is transmitted by Ochlerotatus triseriatus, more commonly known as the eastern tree-hole mosquito.


Found in the Upper Midwest, particularly in or near forests and wooded areas, it has recently been reported in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states here in the U.S. with increasing frequency.


Children 15 years of age and younger are most likely to be victims of LAC.  Horses are not affected by this encephalitis disease.


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The reservoir hosts of LAC, unlike other encephalitis diseases, are small animals including field mice, chipmunks and squirrels.


After the mosquito bites one of these small animals harboring the disease, she then transmits the disease via her bite to another warm blooded mammal.  In many cases, it is often a human who is the recipient of the mosquito’s bite.


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Encephalitis Symptoms

Most people infected by the disease just exhibit flu-like symptoms.  The symptoms of encephalitis include head and muscle aches, nausea and fever. Although this disease is not usually fatal, serious illness can result from it, especially among children age 15 and under.


In the more serious cases, symptoms may include encephalitis, meningitis, paralysis, seizures, coma, and in rare situations, death.  Permanent neurological problems may occur in those who survive a serious case of the disease.  With the severity of encephalitis symptoms, an effective mosquito control system becomes a necessity where the disease is prevalent.


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