Deadly mosquito-borne illness that causes brain swelling reported in Florida

Deadly mosquito-borne illness that causes brain swelling reported in Florida

It cycles between the black-tailed mosquito (Culiseta melanura) and birds in freshwater swampy areas.

In Central Florida, the Department of Health Orange County (DOH - Orange) has issued a warning after EEE was detected in several sentinel chickens.

Only a mosquito bite is enough to give you Eastern equine encephalitis or EEE.

According the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this infection is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito.

A lab assistant places a mosquito into a test tube to be tested for diseases including the West Nile Virus, Saint Louis Encephalitis, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, June 20, 2003, in Wheeling, Ill.

Barry Alto, an associate professor at the University of Florida Medical Entomological Laboratory in Vero Beach, said the black-tailed mosquito is the primary carrier of encephalitis.

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"The risk of transmission to humans has increased" due to the chickens' positive test results, said the Florida Department of Health. There are about seven cases of human EEEV infection each year.

This species is most active near swampland during hot, damp summer months and typically bites during the two hours after sunset. Several sentinel chickens in the same flock were found to be tested positive for EEEV.

St. Lucie Mosquito Control District wishes to remind residents and visitors that the cooler temperatures we now are experiencing does not mean that mosquitoes are not still active and a threat to public health as well as to horses and pets. "But the small percentage that do, they can have a very serious infection". "You do not want to get infected with this".

Summer often means mosquitoes are out in full force, but these biting insects aren't just an annoyance - in some cases, they can be risky.

Severe encephalitic cases often suffer from coma or death. Florida's sub-tropical climate and geography can make it an epicenter for disease contraction. DOH-Orange and mosquito control agencies will continue surveillance and prevention efforts.

Health officials of the state instructed residents to be responsible and protect themselves by draining and removing items around their homes that may hold water and attract mosquitoes.

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