Encephalitis the Latest Mosquito Danger


As if West Nile virus wasn’t enough, county officials said Wednesday they discovered mosquitoes in Whittier carrying Saint Louis Encephalitis, something that hasn’t been found in the area in seven years.

The last time the SLE virus was detected by the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District was September 2009, when it was found in a wild bird.

Like West Nile, SLE can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The two viruses can also cause the same symptoms, such as fever, headache, nausea and fatigue, although most infected people don’t exhibit symptoms.

There is no specific treatment for the virus, according to the district.

The discovery comes as West Nile virus activity continues to increase in the area. According to the vector control district, 26 West Nile-positive mosquito samples were found over the past week, and nine dead birds and three sentinel chickens tested positive for the virus.

West Nile was detected for the first time this year in Huntington Park and Rowland Heights.

“Confirmations of Saint Louis Encephalitis and West Nile virus are reminders that the threat is real in our cities,” according to the district’s Levy Sun. “Thinking `it won’t happen to me’ and ignoring the mosquito risk can be dangerous.”

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