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Encephalitis - Mosquito-Borne Disease

Arboviral Encephalitides

In simple terms, arboviral refers to a disease that is transmitted by an arthropod such as a mosquito to a host, usually a human, bird or animal.


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 St. Louis Encephalitis?

St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE), one of several arboviral encephalitides, is related to West Nile Virus and is spread by the bite of the Culex pipiens mosquito.


Found mainly in the Southeastern and Midwestern regions of the United States, particularly in late summer to early fall, it is also present in other areas of North America and South America.


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Birds appear to be the reservoir host of the disease.  The transmission occurs when the mosquito,  the Culex pipiens mosquito, bites an infected bird and then transfers the disease from the infected bird to a human when it extracts a blood meal from the human.


The bite of a mosquito can not only be annoying, it can also result in a very serious illness, if the disease is tranmsitted through the bite.


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Do I have Encephalitis?  This disease usually does not cause serious illness, and some of those infected do not exhibit symptoms.  When diagnosing Encephalitis, most symptoms resemble the flu, including head and muscle aches, fever and nausea.


However, if the disease does become more severe, prompt medical attention is imperative.  Encephalitis and meningitis can develop in more serious cases.


Unfortunately, death can result from delayed treatment or lack of treatment, particularly in older persons where fatality rates can reach up to 30%.  Therefore, diagnosing Encephalitis sooner is certainly better than later, so seek medical treatment if you suspect you have Encephalitis.  There is no vaccine for this disease at the present time.


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