The discussion about mosquito diseases in Massachusetts comes with good news and bad news. The good news is that not all mosquitoes carry diseases. Of those that do in Massachusetts, cases of people being infected are rare.
The bad news is that no matter how scarce some of these diseases are, your health could be in grave danger if you catch one from an infected mosquito bite. This danger is partially due to some people being asymptomatic. So, the virus may lie dormant until the immune system becomes weak before producing adverse health reactions. Alternatively the victim may experience rapid mild or severe symptoms.
Because some of these diseases are rare, the medical profession can easily confuse their symptoms with other diseases or infections, like flu. When that happens, it also gives the virus the time to grow stronger. The victim is often the loser.
Here’s what you should know about the symptoms, diagnoses, and treatment of some of the worst mosquito-borne diseases in and around Massachusetts.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEE)
Chills, muscle, joint pain, and headaches may accompany the rapid start of a fever. Victims may experience a sensitivity to light known as photophobia and become nauseous and start vomiting. A stiff neck may indicate brain swelling, which can quickly lead to seizures, a coma, and death.
As many as 30% of people who develop severe symptoms die from this disease, so it is vital to seek immediate medical attention when symptoms first appear. A diagnosis involves testing the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or a blood test. This virus has been found in people and animals.
Treatment primarily supports alleviating the severity of the symptoms rather than treating the virus.
West Nile Virus (WNV)
Like the triple E virus, the symptoms of West Nile can be mild or severe. Typical symptoms often include a rash, fever, fatigue, headache, muscle, and joint pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. These symptoms can appear between two and 14 days after the initial infection.
Severe symptoms can include neurological impacts like paralysis, seizures, coma, confusion, disorientation, or loss of vision.
A medical professional will test for this virus using blood or cerebrospinal fluid and clinical analysis based on symptoms. There are reported cases of WNV infecting animals.
Like EEE, there is no specific treatment or cure. Instead, treatment is supportive of managing symptoms. Authorities recommend using techniques to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the first place. These tips include keeping the outdoor space neat, eliminating standing water, wearing protective clothing, using repellents, and pest control services.
Cache Valley Virus (CVV)
Some people may be asymptomatic, but those with symptoms experience the same as those who have contracted the West Nile Virus. Although many people recover from this disease within a few weeks, some may experience ongoing neurological symptoms. Neurological consequences include encephalitis, meningitis, and seizures.
CVV affects people and animals, as with the WNV and EEE. Medical doctors base their diagnosis of this disease on clinical symptoms and laboratory testing of cerebrospinal fluid and blood.
Treatment No specific treatment is available. But supportive medical treatment relieves symptoms until the patient can hopefully recover. Authorities advise people to use preventive measures to reduce their exposure to mosquitoes. Young people, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk of contracting CVV and other mosquito-borne diseases.
Highlands J Virus (HJV)
The Highlands J Virus appears to be related to the equine encephalitis family of viruses. It impacts passerines (perching birds) primarily. It also seems deadly for chickens and turkeys but is not an alphavirus that attacks the brain. We could not uncover evidence of reported human cases at the time of writing this article.
Jamestown Canyon Virus (JCV)
As with many other mosquito diseases, the JCV mimics the symptoms of many mosquito-borne viruses. Some people experience mild symptoms and recover quickly. Others have no signs or develop severe symptoms quickly, including adverse neurological impacts like meningitis and encephalitis.
Although rare, there have been reported cases of JCV in the U.S. A diagnosis relies on antibodies in the blood to help identify the presence of this virus. JCV affects people and whitetail deer.
Because JCV is a virus, antibiotics are ineffective in treating the symptoms. Supportive medical treatments are the primary way to manage symptoms.
St. Louis Encephalitis (SLEV)
SLEV also causes flu-like symptoms in mild cases, plus vomiting, nausea, fatigue, and a rash. Many people recover within a few weeks to a few months. In severe instances, SLEV can progress to causing seizures, tremors, disorientation, confusion, paralysis, and coma. In rare cases, this virus can be fatal. Younger and older people and those with weak immune systems are most at risk of contracting this disease and developing more severe symptoms.
The medical doctor may order specific blood, cerebrospinal, or other bodily tissue testing to detect antibodies that may confirm the presence of this virus. SLEV also impacts people and animals.
Supportive care is available to reduce the effects of the virus. Hospitalization is a necessity in severe cases.
One study states that the Trivittatus virus belongs to the Bunyaviridae family of viruses, specifically the Orthobunyavirus genus. The same research links the Trivittatus virus with Bwamba/Pongola and Nyando and California encephalitis groups of viruses.
Not much information about the Trivittatus virus, its symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment is available. You can read more about the Trivittatus virus and its links with other mosquito-borne diseases mentioned here.
The fact that this specific virus is so rare is positive for the moment, indicating that the risk of contracting it is low for people and animals.
Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE)
VEE symptoms also vary between people and the severity of the infection. But with so many other mosquito diseases, VEE also mimics many flu symptoms, making diagnosis challenging. Where mild cases show flu-like signs, severe cases manifest neurological issues like lumbosacral pain, dizziness, confusion, a stiff neck, seizures, and death in rare cases.
A professional medical diagnosis of VEE means examining the clinical symptoms and laboratory testing of blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples. This virus can infect people and animals.
Supportive care involves using intravenous fluids to manage symptoms like fever and symptoms. Hospitalization and intensive care are as necessary with VEE as with other mosquito diseases.
Heartworm in Dogs
Heartworm symptoms in dogs include coughing, respiratory difficulties, weight loss, pale gums, fatigue, lethargy, and a loss of appetite. This infection can increase rapidly and generate severe symptoms like affecting the dog’s gait, bloating, and heart failure. Treating your dog regularly for worms to prevent an infestation and severe physical damage is advisable.
Your dog’s vet may order a blood test to check for the presence of larvae or adult heartworms.
Your vet may recommend a series of injections to eliminate adult heartworms. This treatment should be accompanied by monitoring to provide supportive therapy for complications like thromboembolisms caused by heartworms. Other supportive treatment includes medication to manage inflammation, pain, and coughing.
Prevention in the form of regular heartworm medication will help prevent the development of mild and severe infections.
Pest Control is a Successful Prevention Method
Regarding a discussion about mosquito and tick diseases, most authorities recommend taking preventative measures to protect yourself. Besides cleaning up your garden, wearing suitable clothing, and other tips, pest control is the most important.
Call Safer Nature today to book your pest control treatment. We have organic and traditional mosquito and tick combination packages to protect yourself. Alternatively, you can choose individual pest control options to safeguard against mosquito diseases.
Complete our online form for a callback. Or – call us at (978) 325-1325.
Take action today and protect your health and pets.