While many mosquitoes are nothing more than annoying pests; with over 3,000 species worldwide, and 150 in the U.S., some are very dangerous. Unfortunately, some mosquitoes are vectors for diseases.
The mosquito-borne illness is rapidly spreading through the Americas, and is linked to serious birth defects. Zika is a virus spread by mosquitoes that causes symptoms including rashes, fevers, headaches, pain behind the eyes, and joint pain. The urgency of this outbreak comes not from the severity of its symptoms, but from the fact that Zika has been linked to microcephal, a condition that creates smaller-than-normal head size in infants. This is typically a rare condition, and is associated with incomplete brain development.
Zika is still a pandemic in progress as it continues to be bolstered via international travel.
West Nile Virus (WN)
Originating in Africa the West Nile virus has spread across parts of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and here at home in the United States. In 2010 981 infections were reported in the U.S., along with 48 deaths. For more information, statistics, and symptoms on the West Nile virus go to:
www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile and www.mayoclinic.com/health/west-virus/ds00438
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)
The eastern equine encephalitis virus is not as common among humans as the WN virus. EEE is more commonly found in various bird species, as well as horses. However, the fatality rate for persons infected with EEE is over 50 percent. Fortunately, there are typically fewer than 30 reported cases nationally in any given year. For more information, statistics, and symptoms on EEE go to:
www.cdc.gov/easternequineencephalitis and www.mayoclinc.com/health/encephalitis/ds00226
LaCrosse Encephalitis (LAC)
Typically found in the Midwest states LaCrosse encephalitis has been on a slow but steady increase into the southeastern portion of the U.S. Unlike EEE, deaths are very rare, but the majority of infections are among children under the age of 15. The number of LAC cases a year is estimated to be 80-100. For more information, statistics, and symptoms on LAC go to:
Other Mosquito-borne illnesses include:
St. Louis encephalitis