Mosquitoes bring nasty and sometimes dangerous infections with them. The little biters are found in every state in the US, from Alaska to Florida. Worldwide, they thrive in every climate whether hot or cold. Their infections involve either viruses or parasites. In North Carolina, mosquito viruses affect us and our pets. Pets are impacted by parasites that can cause heartworm.
West Nile Virus (WNV) is the mosquito virus we’ve heard the most about in our area. It is transmitted to mosquitoes from infected birds. Once mosquitoes are found with West Nile in an area, it’s usually just a matter of time before human cases will begin occurring. Mosquitoes can transmit WNV to horses also. About 20% of us who are infected with WNV will develop symptoms such as fever, headaches, body aches, joint pain and diarrhea. Of the 20% with symptoms, the virus will be lethal for 10%, or one in 1,500.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE, is a disease more common to horses. A vaccine is available for horses, but unfortunately, not for humans. Although humans rarely contract EEE, it does sometimes occur. When contracted, 1 in 3 people will die from EEE. Fever, headaches, irritability, restlessness, drowsiness, vomiting, and convulsions are all signs of an EEE infection.
La Crosse Encephalitis (LCAV) has been reported in North Carolina but not very often. Symptoms usually occur 5 to 15 days after infection and will last 2 to 3 days. Symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Children under 16 years of age are most at risk for serious complications but the numbers of cases are rare in our state.
Chikungunya virus has been in the news a lot in 2014 and 2015. The first case in the Western Hemisphere occurred in the Caribbean, December 2013. There were more than 100,000 cases, including more than 600 in the US from returning travelers who acquired it outside the US. identified in Africa, chikungunya is now common in southeast asia, the indian and pacific ocean regions and the caribbean. symptoms usually begin 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. the most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. there is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya. symptoms can be severe and debilitating, nut not necessarily lethal.
Dengue fever and yellow fever have been seen in outbreaks in the U.S. but are not common and have occurred very infrequently. Since many of these diseases are encephalitis-causing viruses, they share the symptoms of headache, fever, tiredness and joint pain. if you experience any of these flu-like symptoms during summer months in NC and have been outdoors, you should consider the possibility you have contracted a mosquito-borne infection. in many cases, the symptoms will subside. if you are over 65 or under 16 years of age, have hypertension, diabetes, are receiving treatment for another disease, you should consider contacting your physician to discuss your symptoms.
The best way to prevent a mosquito-borne infection is to prevent being bitten. One way you can do that while outdoors in your yard is to use a barrier spray. Call the authority in mosquito, tick and flea control at Mosquito Squad.
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