This news item expired on 5/31/2009, so the information below could be outdated or incorrect.

Protect Yourself: Mosquitoes Can Carry Several Diseases


Mosquitoes can carry several different diseases including:

  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis
  • West Nile virus
  • La Crosse Encephalitis
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Yellow fever

Protect yourself from mosquitoes.All of these diseases can cause illness in humans, horses, birds and other animals. By far the most common seen in Western North Carolina is La Crosse Encephalitis.

How are these diseases spread? Disease is caused by the bite of an infected mosquito and most often affects children. Most cases of La Crosse occur during the summer months and early fall. This disease cannot be spread by touch or casual contact with humans or other animals.

Symptoms of La Crosse Encephalitis may include:

  • high fever
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • headache
  • neck stiffness
  • weakness or paralysis

How is it treated? There are no specific treatments for encephalitis. While most people recover from the illness, some may have permanent loss of normal brain function or die.

How can it be prevented? You can take steps to prevent mosquito bites and the risk of encephalitis.

  • Avoid peak mosquito hours.
    • The hours from dusk to dawn are the prime feeding times.
    • Take extra care if you’re outside during the evening or early morning hours.
  • Wear protective clothing.
    • If possible, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors during peak mosquito hours.
  • Drain standing water around your home.
    • Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water.
    • Turn over buckets
    • Discard old tires
    • store wheelbarrows and wading pools upside down
    • adjust tarps over boats, pools, etc. to drain water
    • fix dripping faucets
    • don’t leave water standing in flower pots or bird baths for more than a few days
  • Install or repair window screens.
    • Make sure screens are well-fitting and repair any holes you find.
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET.
    • DEET concentrations of 30-50% are effective for several hours.
    • These should be used sparingly on exposed skin and should not be applied to children under two months of age.
    • Repellents containing permethrin may be applied to outer clothing and gear.

For more information see the CDC's website.