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Alachua County Health Department

Disease Control (Epidemiology) - Alachua County Health Department

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There are two diseases that are carried by mosquitoes which are of concern for Alachua County residents and visitors. These diseases, called arboviruses, are Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and West Nile Virus (WNV). While both can be fatal, EEE has the higher death rate, and covers a wider age group for serious symptoms. While WNV can certainly affect all groups, it is predominately a serious disease for those over 55 years old. Symptoms however, in both age groups can range from mild or unapparent, to the onset of fever and general malaise. The most serious cases have this as well as full encephalitic symptoms, such as delirium, coma, and death. As stated, the death rate in EEE is higher, but also this disease carries a higher rate of ongoing problems for those that survive it.

Arboviruses are predominately diseases of birds, which serve as reservoirs and amplifiers of the infection in a community. It is only when an infected bird is bitten by mosquitoes that feed on birds and other hosts that infection occurs. While different mammals can get infected, the predominate species infected are horses, and to a much lower extent, humans. A vaccine is available for horses for both EEE and WNV, and horse owners should contact their veterinarian for the proper schedule for vaccination against both diseases. Fatality rates for EEE in horses are as much as 95% and 35% for WNV. There is no human vaccine available for either disease.

Prevention of these diseases in humans begins with the individual taking their basic precautions. We commonly refer to these as the "Five D's" of prevention.

  • The mosquitoes that we are most concerned about feed primarily at Dawn and Dusk. Avoiding activity at these times reduce risk.
  • Dress appropriately. If you are out at these times, the use of barrier clothing, such as long sleeves and pants, reduce skin exposure.
  • The use of chemical repellants containing DEET are recommended. Use these repellants in accordance with package instructions, and for appropriate age groups as listed on the product.
  • Finally, assure that your Drains are free of standing water. This includes gutters, flower pots, wading pools, and virtually anything that will hold even small amounts of standing water.
Alachua County Health Department | 224 SE 24th Street | Gainesville, FL 32641 | (352) 334-7900
This page was last modified on: 12/14/2006 04:30:51