Nervous System Home > St. Louis Encephalitis

Found throughout the United States, St. Louis encephalitis is a serious viral disease that is spread by infected mosquitoes. At present, there is no specific treatment for the condition; prevention involves controlling mosquitoes and avoiding mosquito bites. This type of encephalitis is the most common human disease caused by mosquitoes in the United States.

What Is St. Louis Encephalitis?

St. Louis encephalitis is one of several mosquito-borne viral diseases that can affect the central nervous system and cause severe complications, including death.
 
The condition is found throughout the United States, and at present, there is no specific treatment it; prevention depends on controlling mosquitoes and avoiding mosquito bites. Other similar diseases are eastern equine encephalitis, western equine encephalitis, and LaCrosse encephalitis.
 

What Causes It?

St. Louis encephalitis is caused an arbovirus. The term arbovirus is short for arthropod-borne virus. Arboviruses are a large group of viruses that are spread by certain invertebrate animals (arthropods), mainly blood-sucking insects.
 
In the United States, arboviruses are usually spread by infected mosquitoes. Birds are often the source of infection for mosquitoes, which can sometimes transmit the infection to animals and, in rare cases, people.
 

Where Is St. Louis Encephalitis Encountered?

St. Louis encephalitis is found throughout North, Central, and South America, and the Caribbean, but is a major public health problem mainly in the United States. The virus is found throughout the country, but periodic outbreaks and epidemics have occurred in the Mississippi Valley and Gulf Coast, the western states, and Florida.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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