Only certain types
of mosquitoes carry viruses of concern to people. There are
five main types of viral illness carried by mosquitoes in the United States that affect Mississippians.
Chikungunya virus: Chikungunya infection is rarely fatal, but it can cause fever, flu-like symptoms, and pain and swelling in the joints.
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Eastern Equine encephalitis: EEE causes illness in humans, horses and some birds. Very few human cases of EEE have ever occurred in
Mississippi. Most infections occur in horses, from spring to fall. People of all ages can get the disease, but children are more
likely to have severe illness or die. Approximately 30 to 60 percent of those who become ill with EEE die.
LaCrosse encephalitis: LAC can cause illness in humans, though it is more common in the midwestern U.S. rather than Mississippi.
Cases occur from spring to fall, usually affecting children under 16 years of age. Only about one percent of people who become ill with LAC
St. Louis encephalitis: SLE causes illness only in humans. Historically, it has been the most common disease carried by mosquitoes
in Mississippi. SLE primarily affects the elderly, occurring in summer and early fall. SLE rarely causes death, although
approximately 15 percent of the patients with severe symptoms die.
West Nile virus: WNV has been reported in Mississippi in horses, birds, mosquitoes and humans. In humans, WNV infection
can lead to dangerous conditions such as meningitis or encephalitis. Anyone can get WNV, but people over
50 years of age are more severely affected. Among those with severe illness due to West Nile virus, fatality rates range from 3% to 15% and are highest among the elderly. Unlike other
mosquito-borne illnesses, certain species of birds (especially crows and blue jays) can also get sick and die from the disease, as can horses.
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Zika virus: Zika has recently spread to Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Like other mosquito-borne viral diseases, it often causes no symptoms.
When pregnant women are infected, however, Zika greatly increases the chance of brain defects or stillbirth in the developing children of pregnant women.
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