What is Western Equine Encephalitis?
Western Equine Encephalitis is often considered the Western version of Eastern Equine Encephalitides.
First discovered in California, Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE) was considered a disease found mainly in the western areas of North America. Recently, however, reports of the disease are appearing in areas outside of the initial regions. As one of the diseases farmers get, WEE is prevalent in agricultural areas.
Farming regions that have increased their irrigation practices are contributing to the disease’s spread.
As with Eastern Equine Encephalitis, birds are the disease’s main host reservoir. However with WEE, the mosquito Culex pipiens tarsalis is the main vector of this disease. Small mammals are less common host reservoirs of WEE.
Like Eastern Equine Encephalitis, the most common symptoms of the disease are flu-like in nature, with head and muscle aches, fever and nausea.
Most occurrences of the disease are not serious, however, in some instances, WEE can result in Encephalitis or Meningitis, especially in children younger than one year of age. These children suffer more critical cases of the disease than adults do, yet only about 3% of the cases result in death.
Some young survivors of the disease, however, may end up with permanent neurological damage.
Horses can fall victim to the disease, however, there is a vaccine to prevent this for horses. As an easy prevention measure, these are vaccines horses should get. As with EEE, there is no vaccine for humans at present. Therefore, an effective mosquito control system is neccessary to offer protection against mosquitos and the mosquito-borne diseases they carry.
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