A rare mosquito borne illness found in El Paso can be deadly if not treated

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Mosquito season is in full swing with a case of the St Louis Encephalitis virus found in El Paso County.

St Louis Encephalitis is a potentially deadly virus and while most people have minor or no symptoms at all, it’s the vulnerable population that’s most at risk for severe symptoms.

“Most likely if we already have a mosquito that has been identified with the virus most likely is that we have more,” said Ruth Castillo, the Health Program Manager for Emergency Preparedness Program for the city of El Paso.

As KTSM previsously reported, the virus was found in a group of mosquitoes collected in the 79936 ZIP code. The Environmental Services Department, through the Vector Control program, travels around the county setting traps and testing mosquitoes for mosquito-borne illnesses.

“They actually have a list of those reservoirs. That’s how they call it places in which they already know that mosquitoes prefer to breed. So they actually do like rounds, monthly, weekly, filling up those traps,” said Castillo.

Mild symptoms of St Louis Encephalitis are similar to West Nile, which include nausea, vomiting, headaches and muscle aches.

Severe symptoms can mean disorientation, vision loss, and coma among others. That’s why officials say it’s important to let your doctor know if you’ve gotten bitten by mosquitoes recently.

“If they see any mosquito bites or elderly or immunocompromised, so that way the physician can actually do a referral, and then test for any of these mosquito borne diseases,” said Castillo.

If you see a lot of mosquitoes or breeding in standing water, call 311 to get Vector Control to fog the area, which can help decrease the population of mosquitoes.

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