Acute Communicable Disease Control

Encephalitis, an inflammation of parts of the brain, spinal cord and meninges, causes headache, stiff neck, fever and altered mental status. It can result from infection with a number of different agents including viral, parasitic, fungal, rickettsial, bacterial and chemical. Public health surveillance is limited to cases of suspected or confirmed viral etiology, which includes primary and post-infectious encephalitisóbut excludes individuals with underlying Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. Of special concern is arboviral (mosquitoborne) encephalitis, which can be prevented by personal protection and mosquito control (See WNV section). Arthropod-borne viruses, i.e., arboviruses, are viruses that are maintained in nature through biological   transmission between susceptible vertebrate hosts by blood feeding arthropods (mosquitoes, ticks, and certain mites and gnats). All arboviral encephalitides are zoonotic, being maintained in complex life cycles involving a nonhuman vertebrate primary host and a primary arthropod vector. Arboviral encephalitides have a global distribution. There are five main viral agents of encephalitis in the United States: West Nile virus (WNV), eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), western equine encephalitis (WEE), St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) and La Crosse (LAC) encephalitis, all of which are transmitted by mosquitoes.

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