Title of topic
May 7, 2004
What are mosquito-borne
Viruses that are carried by mosquitoes
are called arboviruses. In the United States, arboviral illness
may be due to St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) virus, Eastern equine
encephalomyelitis (EEE) virus, Western equine encephalitis virus,
LaCrosse virus or West Nile encephalomyelitis (WNV) virus. Currently
the most common mosquito-borne viruses circulating in the Houston
and Harris County area are WNV and SLE.
How are mosquito-borne
West Nile virus and SLE are spread
to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. A mosquito becomes
infected by biting a bird that carries the virus. These viruses
are not spread by person-to-person contact such as touching,
kissing or caring for someone who is infected.
What are the symptoms
of mosquito-borne illness?
Many people may not even know
they are infected with an arbovirus. When symptoms do occur
(2-15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito), they may
include fever, headache, fatigue, dizziness, weakness and confusion.
WNV may also cause a rash or muscle weakness. People 50 or older
tend to be more severely affected by SLE or WNV. The most severe
cases can lead to coma and death.
What to do to reduce
the risk of becoming infected with mosquito-borne illness?
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in
standing or slow-moving water, like ditches or storm water basins
that do not drain. Unattended weeds, tall grass and bushes provide
adult mosquitoes with hiding places during the day. They can
enter homes through unscreened windows and doors or broken screens.
Protect your home from
- Make sure that doors and windows
have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace all screens
that have tears or holes.
- Remove any open containers
or tires that can potentially hold water.
- Make sure roof gutters drain
properly. Clean closed gutters.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming
pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. If not in use, keep empty
- Change the water in stock
tanks and birdbaths at least once a week.
- If outside from dusk to dawn
when mosquitoes are most active, or during the day in an area
where there are weeds, tall grass, or bushes, people should
wear protective clothing, such as long pants, loose-fitting,
long-sleeved shirts and socks, and consider the use of an
insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide).
The American Academy of Pediatrics
recommends that repellents used on children should not contain
more than 10 percent DEET. For additional information on mosquito-borne
illnesses view the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/list_mosquitoborne.htm
For additional information on WNV in Houston view the HDHHS