A Rare Mosquito Borne Disease Returns

August 31, 2017 | Posted In: Mosquito

A Rare Mosquito Borne Disease Returns

Hopefully you have never contracted a mosquito-borne disease. You, most likely, have not, but you can likely name a few. There is, of course, the West Nile virus, which is making a comeback this year, and has already infected at least one individual within the United States. There is the Zika virus, which was the mosquito-borne disease to fear last summer. There is also malaria, which very few people in America ever contract. Obviously, there are several more mosquito-borne diseases that you would recognize if you heard their names, but you have like never heard of one mosquito-borne disease known as St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE). The last major epidemic of SLE occurred back in 1990. Since then, SLE has infected very few Americans. However, a mosquito trap in Stanislaus County, California was recently found to contain a mosquito that was infected with SLE, and this is not encountered often.

SLE is passed from birds to humans through mosquito bites. This disease mostly infects those living in the Gulf region, especially Florida. SLE is not too common, as only 4,478 individuals became infected between the years of 1964 and 1998. However, there is no vaccine available for SLE. 1997 saw the last human case of SLE, but a 2003 case took a person’s life. But the West Nile virus was blamed for the 2003 death.

The recently found mosquito was not the only SLE infected mosquito found in California this year. Infected mosquitoes were also trapped in Fresno, Kern and Kings Counties. SLE is similar in symptomatology to the West Nile virus, as headaches, fever, and even seizures can occur in afflicted individuals. However, most individuals that become infected with SLE don’t experience any symptoms at all, also similar to West Nile. Although no human cases have been reported yet this year, local health officials in all three counties where SLE infected mosquitoes were found are educating the public about this particular mosquito-borne disease.

Have you ever heard of St. Louis Encephalitis? Which mosquito-borne disease scares you the most? Which mosquito-borne disease, do you believe, is the greatest risk to the public?