Culex Mosquitos, West Nile Virus and Saint Louis Encephalitis Virus in Fresno County
How to Identify a Culex Mosquito
Culex is the largest mosquito genus, and includes 769 species. Two common species in this genus are Culex quinquefasciatus, also known as the southern house mosquito and Culex tarsalis, also known as the western encephalitis mosquito. Because of their global presence and ability to transmit a variety of potentially fatal diseases, this group is considered one of the most dangerous insect vectors to humans and animals.
Culex can carry Saint Louis encephalitis and West Nile virus, which can lead to serious complications. And since Culex mosquitos are all over the world, including Fresno County, this type of mosquito is best avoided by using insect repellent to prevent bites that can transmit serious illnesses. Learn more about how to prevent mosquito bites here.
What is West Nile virus?
West Nile virus is a virus that’s spread to people through bites from an infected mosquito. While most people don’t have any symptoms, about 1 in 5 have a fever and other flu-like symptoms, including a rash. For about 1 out of 150 people who are infected, serious illness affecting the central nervous system can occur, including encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis.
How do you get West Nile virus?
People can get West Nile virus (WNV) if an infected mosquito bites them. Mosquitos can get infected with WNV by feeding on birds that are infected with the virus. From there, they can spread WNV to people and animals through bites. Though extremely rare, it is possible that WNV can be spread from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery or breast-feeding.
How can you prevent West Nile Virus?
Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to avoid getting West Nile. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants and avoid outdoor activities during peak mosquito hours (dusk and dawn). For more tips, click here.
While you can’t get West Nile from handling infected/dead birds, it’s best to report if you see one. Use protection such as gloves or double plastic bags to dispose of a bird, and report dead bird sightings here.
What is Saint Louis encephalitis virus?
Saint Louis encephalitis (SLE) is a virus that is spread to humans through bites from an infected mosquito. Most people infected with SLE do not show symptoms or have mild flu-like symptom. In serious cases, particularly at-risk groups such as the elderly, SLE can cause life-threatening conditions that can affect the central nervous system. Headaches, fever and feeling disoriented can occur, and in the most serious cases, coma, paralysis and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) can result from the SLE virus.
How do you get Saint Louis encephalitis virus?
People can get SLE if an infected mosquito bites them. Unlike Zika, SLE cannot be transmitted from person to person.
How can you prevent Saint Louis encephalitis virus?
Since there is no vaccine for the Saint Louis encephalitis virus, preventing mosquito bites is vital. The best way to reduce your risk of getting infected with SLE is by using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved clothing and pants and avoiding the outdoors during the peak mosquito hours, dusk and dawn. Learn more about prevention tips here.