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FAQs - Diseases

Have questions?

Find immediate answers to commonly asked questions about the diseases mosquitoes carry, transmit and spread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q:      Can people die from Eastern Equine Encephalitis here in the
           United States?

 

A: Yes, sadly enough, this is one of the diseases mosquitoes transmit that can cause death in humans.  Although many people who are infected with EEE virus have no symptoms or slight flu-like symptoms, there are some people who will develop life-threatening symptoms, including inflammation of the brain, coma, and ultimately, death.  1 in 3 people who contract a serious case of the disease will die from it, and those that do survive may end up with permanent damage to the nervous system, requiring lifelong care.

 

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Q:       Is there a vaccine or antibiotic that can cure people who
           become sick with EEE?

 

A: Any of the arboviral encephalitides are viral, so antibiotics are of little use in treating people with the disease.  There is a vaccine for horses, but not for humans at this time.  The best way to combat EEE and other arboviruses is before they strike – prevention is the key.

 

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Q:     Where can EEE be found in the U.S.?

 

A: As the name implies, eastern parts of the U.S., including the entire East Coast and Gulf Coast, and some areas of the Midwest.  The primary type of area for this potentially fatal disease is swampland, with swamp-inhabiting birds being potential reservoirs of the disease.  EEE is one of the diseases mosquitoes can spread.

 

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Q:     What are the symptoms of EEE?

 

A: Symptoms are very similar to those of the flu with headache and body aches, fever, nausea, and so forth.  In serious cases, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), coma, and ultimately, death, may occur.

 

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Q:     How did this disease get its name – from LaCrosse, Wisconsin?

 

A:  Exactly.  LaCrosse, Wisconsin was where the cause of the disease was first found back in 1963.

 

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Q:     Where is LaCrosse Encephalitis found?

 

A:  Cases of the disease have mostly been found in the upper Midwest near deciduous forests, although more cases in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions have been reported lately.  LaCrosse Encephalitis is one of the diseases mosquitoes transmit.

 

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Q:     What are the symptoms of LaCrosse Encephalitis?

 

A: Like many of the arboviral encephalitides, most cases have symptoms usually associated with the flu.  More severe cases may result in encephalitis, meningitis, paralysis, seizures, neurological damage, coma, and death.  Those that survive severe cases often will need lifelong care.

 

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Q:     Is there a type of mosquito that carries this disease?

 

A: Yes, the vector for this disease is the ochlerotatus triseriatus, commonly known as the eastern tree-hole mosquito.  The common name should give you a good idea of one of the habitats where this mosquito and its larvae can be found!  Interestingly, the female prefer to search for their victims in daylight, but in shaded areas such as forests or woodlands.

 

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Q:     Is this virus a serious threat to people here in the United States?

 

A: Although most cases of the disease here in the U.S. have been in the Southeastern and Midwestern areas, it can be found throughout North America.   It is not one of the major arboviruses and most of the cases do not cause serious illness.  However, some people, including the elderly, can end up with a very serious or fatal case of the disease.  Most people don’t even realize they have the disease!  (This disease also occurs in South America.)

 

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Q:     What are the symptoms of St. Louis Encephalitis?

 

A: Symptoms are very much like symptoms of the flu with headache and body aches, fever, nausea, and so forth.  In serious cases, encephalitis and meningitis may occur.

 

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Q:     Is there a vaccine to prevent St. Louis Encephalitis?

 

A: No, unfortunately, not at this time.  There are no medicines specifically designed to cure this disease.  If a case is severe, medical attention is needed.

 

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Q:     Is St. Louis Encephalitis one of the diseases mosquitoes carry?

 

A: No, it is mainly the culex pipiens females that are the vectors of this disease.  These mosquitoes prefer small reservoirs of water such as old tires, flowerpots, rain gutters, and other water-collecting containers for laying their eggs.

 

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Q:     Where does Western Equine Encephalitis occur?

 

A:  Basically, it can be found in the western regions of the U.S. and Canada, although the area affected has been spreading eastward, especially in places where the number of irrigated farmlands has escalated.

 

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Q:     What are the symptoms of WEE?

 

A: Like, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, the symptoms of Western Equine Encephalitis are very similar to those of the flu with headache and body aches, fever, nausea, and so forth.  In serious cases, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis, coma, and ultimately, death, may occur.

 

Unfortunately, it is harshest on young children, and those who survive severe cases may end up needing lifelong care.  Horses are also susceptible to the virus and may die from WEE in severe cases.

 

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Q:     Is WEE one of the diseases mosquitoes spread?

 

A: Yes, the Culex Tarsalis mosquito is the culprit here in the United States.  It should be noted that the female mosquito can travel 10-15 miles from its “birth home” in search of a blood meal.  This means that people in the suburban neighborhoods within a 10-15 mile radius of irrigated land can be prime targets.

 

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