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Mosquito-Borne Illnesses: Viruses and Symptoms


Mosquito bites can be itchy and painful, but they can also make you sick! Mosquitoes are known to carry many viruses that can cause severe illness and death.

During the summer months, it’s especially important to use bug repellent.  If you’re going to be outside at dusk or nighttime, wear light-colored clothing (mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors).

Mosquito borne illnesses: 

Chikungunya is a fairly new mosquito-born illness to be found in the U.S.  The first documented chikungunya were reported in Florida on July 17, 2014.

Chikungunya is a viral disease.  Symptoms of Chikungunya include fever, joint pain, headaches, rash and swelling.

Symptoms typically begin 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

“Chikungunya disease does not often result in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling,” the CDC states.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) affects both horses and humans.  Encephalitis is one of the most serious mosquito-borne illnesses.  Encephalitis affects the body’s central nervous system and can lead to death.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is most commonly found in freshwater swamps in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states and in the eastern part of North America.

Symptoms include a flu-like illness with fever, headache and sore throat.  More serious cases can lead to a sudden fever, headache or seizures and coma or death.

 St. Louis Encephalitis affects both birds, mammals and humans.  St. Louis Encephalitis is most common along the Gulf of Mexico and Florida, though it can be found throughout the U.S.

The elderly and very young are more susceptible to the illness.

Symptoms include a flu-like illness with fever, headache and sore throat.  More serious cases can lead to a sudden fever, headache or seizures and coma or death.

LaCrosse encephalitis (LAC) “is much less widespread than EEE or SLE, but approximately 90 cases occur per year occurs in all 13 states east of the Mississippi, particularly in the Appalachian region. It was reported first in 1963 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and the vector is thought to be a specific type of woodland mosquito (Aedes triseriatus) called the tree-hole mosquito, with small mammals the usual warm-blooded host. Infrequent fatalities occur in children younger than 16. It is not transmissible from human to human. There is no vaccine for LaCrosse encephalitis,” Mosquito.org states.

West Nile Virus (WNV) emerged from Africa. The first documented case in the U.S. was in 1999.   The disease infects all mammals.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus include flu-like symptoms: headache, fever, fatigue, aches or a rash.  The symptoms may last a few days or several weeks.

“At least 63% of patients report symptoms lasting over 30 days, with the median being 60 days. The other types are grouped as “neuroinvasive disease” which affects the nervous system; West Nile encephalitis which affects the brain and West Nile meningitis (meningoencephalitis) which is an inflammation of the brain and membrane around it. (CDC),” Mosquito.org states.



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