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Mosquitoes Carrying Rare Saint Louis Encephalitis Virus Discovered in Westminster

The samples that tested positive were collected on October 10 at Old Bolsa Chica Road in Westminster and near Dale and Orange avenues in Anaheim, revealed The Orange County Register (OCR).

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Updated:October 20, 2019, 3:32 PM IST
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Mosquitoes Carrying Rare Saint Louis Encephalitis Virus Discovered in Westminster
Representative image. (Image: Reuters)

The Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District announced on October 15 that collected mosquito samples from the place have tested positive for Saint Louis encephalitis.

The samples that tested positive were collected on October 10 at Old Bolsa Chica Road in Westminster and near Dale and Orange avenues in Anaheim, revealed The Orange County Register (OCR).

The OCR cited a press release where vector control spokeswoman Heather Hyland said that this is the first detection in the area in three decades and that they are encouraging residents to take the necessary precautions to keep their selves and their families’ safe.

Notably, Saint Louis encephalitis, or SLE, is a viral disease spread by the bite of an infected mosquito but most people who contract the virus show no apparent illness, says Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to experts, mosquitoes feeding on infected birds contract the virus and pass it on to humans. However, there has been no confirmed cases of human infection this year. The last confirmed case was in 1984, when five people were reported as being positive of SLE.

According to the CDC, the initial symptoms of SLE include headache, fever, vomiting, fatigue and nausea.

SLE can, however, lead to encephalitis, or swelling of the brain and is more common in older adults, says the CDC. Very rarely does it cause long-term disability or death, the CDC further adds.

Unfortunately, there are no vaccines to prevent Saint Louis Encephalitis, neither are there any medications to treat it. However, precautions need to be taken to protect oneself from mosquito bites and these include, draining containers with stagnant water, dumping water from potted plants or tyres as well as cleaning and scrubbing bird baths daily.

Using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and taking steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors also are effective methods to protect against SLE.

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