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Eastern Equine Encephalitis,
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West Nile Virus (WNV)
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

West Nile Virus (WNV) is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.  For humans the risk of contracting the infection is low and in the overwhelming majority of cases, there are no symptoms or just mild, flu-like symptoms.  If illness does occur, it happens within 3 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

The spread of the West Nile virus/encephalitis in the United States is a major health concern. The virus was discovered in Uganda in 1937. Though the first reported case was in New York in 1999, it could have started before 1999 in any state that borders NY if cases were not reported by lack of knowledge. It is a mosquito-borne disease that has spread across the United States. It has killed 284 people in 2002.

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain and can be caused by viruses and bacteria, including viruses transmitted by mosquito bites. West Nile encephalitis is caused by the West Nile virus, a flavivirus commonly found in Africa, West Asia, and the Middle East. It is closely related to the St. Louis encephalitis virus found in the United States.



Transmission is a vicious circle. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. The virus gets into the mosquito's salivary glands. Then the mosquito bites a human or an animal, injecting the virus, which can multiply and cause illness.

Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the infection.

bulletMild infections
bulletFlu-like symptoms
bulletHeadaches and body aches
bulletSkin rash
bulletSwollen lymph glands

Severe infections Signs:

bulletHigher fever
bulletNeck stiffness
bulletConvulsions and muscle weakness

Reducing Risks

bulletStay indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors
bulletSpray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET
bulletApply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin
bulletInstall or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors
bullet Drain Standing Water in your yard. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items that hold water. Need examples? Learn more on the Prevention of West Nile Virus Question and Answer page.


*Note: Vitamin B and "ultrasonic" devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites


CDC Home | Health Topics A-Z |

Within UNEC Cyber Community, Also see:
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Encephalitis Prevention Guidelines



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