May 7, 2004
Mosquito-borne disease in Houston
What are mosquito-borne viruses?
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 viruses spread?
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 mosquitoes:
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