For the past few years, mosquito-borne illnesses have been getting a lot of attention. Given the Zika scare that occured during 2015 and 2016, many Americans now consider themselves vulnerable to bites from disease-carrying mosquitoes. Considering the widespread attention being paid to mosquito-borne illnesses as a public health threat, it is surprising to learn that there exists a few generally unknown diseases that mosquitoes can pass to humans in America. While the most deadly and common form of mosquito-borne illness is malaria, most Americans are not concerned about contracting this disease. In America, commonly known mosquito-borne diseases include the west Nile virus, the Zika virus and now yellow fever is starting to become a concern as well. However, most Americans have never heard of the mosquito-borne disease called St. Louis encephalitis. It is no wonder why this disease is not well known in America, as it is extremely rare. To illustrate, in the populous state of California, only five people contracted the rare disease from mosquitoes between 2008 and 2017. Even during the Zika scare, St. Louis encephalitis was never mentioned as a mosquito-borne disease of risk. For the first time in more than two decades, a case of St. Louis encephalitis has infected a resident of Los Angeles County.
The first person to contract St. Louis encephalitis in LA since 1997 is an elderly woman who is not being named in the media. According to the LA Department of Health, the elderly woman fell ill from the rare disease during late August. The disease is similar in symptomology to the west Nile virus, as both viruses can cause paralysis, brain inflammation and possibly death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that six cases of the disease were reported during the 2017 year. The news concerning this rare mosquito-borne disease was released shortly before four people in California died from the west Nile virus. Much like west Nile, victims of St. Louis encephalitis often feel healthy and have no symptoms, but those over 50 can go into a coma, experience flu-like symptoms and convulsions.
Have you ever heard of St. Louis encephalitis?