Rarity or Risk? Understanding St. Louis Encephalitis

The beautiful flowers and warm sunshine announce the start of spring. It means that you can finally go outdoors and enjoy everything that nature has to offer. Unfortunately, it also means the return of a frustrating enemy. Mosquitoes will soon be filling the air with threats of itchy bites and a number of diseases. One of these diseases is St. Louis encephalitis. Twenty cases were confirmed in 2015 in Maricopa County, including one fatality that resulted from the disease. Despite its rarity, people who do contract St. Louis encephalitis can become seriously ill.

How Does St. Louis Encephalitis Spread?

When mosquitoes feed on birds that carry the virus, they become carriers. Within a few days, they can transmit the virus by biting humans, horses, birds and other animals. Not all mosquito species are capable of sharing the illness. Culex mosquitoes, which are fairly common throughout Arizona, are the primary carriers. Only mosquitoes can spread St. Louis encephalitis; bites from infected animals can’t transmit the virus. While it’s considered a rare disease, the risk of acquiring it should be taken seriously.

St. Louis Encephalitis Symptoms and Treatment

In the vast majority of cases, St. Louis encephalitis doesn’t cause any symptoms. Less than one percent of victims know that they’ve been infected. For the few unlucky ones, symptoms develop within 15 days. The onset of symptoms is usually sudden and includes headache, fever, dizziness, weakness and nausea. After a week or so, some people recover. Others may develop the neurological symptoms of encephalitis such as confusion, tremor, stiff neck and unsteadiness. People with severe disease may go into a coma. Although death is rare, the risk of fatality increases with age. No vaccine or specific treatment exists for the disease. Blood tests can monitor the condition, and supportive treatment helps to manage symptoms. If you develop symptoms of St. Louis encephalitis, or you think you may have been bitten by an infected mosquito, contact your doctor right away.

How to Avoid the Disease

The only way to avoid St. Louis encephalitis is to avoid contact with mosquitoes. Public officials do their part by studying mosquito populations to monitor the prevalence of culex mosquitoes and detecting breeding sites. The best way to manage mosquito problems on private property is to contact a pest control professional.

Contact Burns Pest Elimination to Protect Your Family’s Health

When Phoenix and Tucson residents need effective, fast pest control, they put their trust in the company with the experience and technology to get the job done right the first time. At Burns Pest Elimination, we understand the urgency of eliminating disease-carrying insects from your property. We employ only the most reliable methods of mosquito control available to keep bloodthirsty pests away from you and your loved ones. Don’t let a fear of mosquito bites destroy your spring and summer. Visit us online to schedule service today.