Syracuse UniversityHealth Services

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Mosquito Borne Viruses

WHAT IS IT:  viruses from mosquito bites that transmit diseases such as West Nile Virus (WNV), Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and Zika.

SYMPTOMS

WNV:  Many infected do not get sick.

Mild cases may cause slight fever, headache and usually get better on their own.

Serious cases may cause high fever with head and body aches. 

EEE: Many do not get sick or develop symptoms

Severe cases may cause severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors, coma or paralysis.

ZIKA: For most, Zika is mild and not fatal.  Cases have been reported in travelers returning from the Carribean and South America. A few locally acquired cases have been reported in Florida and Texas.

Common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain, and headache. Incubation period is not known, but is thought to be a few days to a week. A correlation has identified potential birth defects to infants born to a mother with Zika virus.  Pregnant women should strongly consider postponing travel to the tropical climates identified as those where Zika virus is known to exist.

TREATMENT

There is no specific medication to treat mosquito borne viruses.  Supportive care is suggested with rest, fluids to prevent dehydration, and Tylenol to decrease fever and pain.  No aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories should be used. Occasionally, in severe cases, supportive care may include hospitalization, respiratory support and IV fluids

WHEN TO SEEK CARE

This has not become an issue for Syracuse University. However, we recommend if you have recently traveled abroad to one of the countries listed by the CDC and have symptoms to follow-up with a health professional.

PREVENTION

Avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitos are most active during the summer and early fall between dusk and dawn. Take care to use repellent and wear protective clothing during these times. 

Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, shoes and socks.  Avoid shaded, bushy areas where mosquitos are most active. 

Mosquito-proof your living area. Install or repair screens on windows/doors.  Get rid of water collecting around home/yard.  Empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birth baths, buckets, barrels, cans.  Check for clogged gutters and clean them out.  Remove discarded tires and other items that can collect water.

Center for Disease Control and Preventions recommends using insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or IR3535 to prevent mosquito bites.  DEET and Picaridin provide loner-lasting protection than the other repellents.  Always use the manufacturers recommendations.