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Mosquito-borne diseases are spread to people and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. The viruses that cause these diseases include West Nile virus (WNV), eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE), St. Louis encephalitis (SLE), La Crosse encephalitis, and western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE). These infections are not contagious (“catching”). Outbreaks are most common in warm climates. In cooler places, mosquitoes start biting in the spring when the temperature at night reaches 60 degrees and continue until the first hard frost in the fall. Warm spells in the winter can also cause mosquitoes to become active.
Most children, who get one of these viruses, have few signs or symptoms. Common signs are mild fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and a rash. However, severe illness can occur if the virus affects the membranes of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or the brain itself (encephalitis). Call your child’s doctor right away if your child has any of these symptoms:
Since there is no vaccine or medicine to protect against these diseases, prevention is very important. In severe cases, a hospital stay may be needed.
Use insect repellant with 30% DEET. (Do not use DEET on children younger than 2 months.) Do not use a product that combines repellant with sunscreen (Picture 1).
Mosquito-Borne Diseases (PDF)
HH-I-297 2/09 Copyright 2009, Nationwide Children’s Hospital