What is Western Equine Encephalitis?

Western Equine Encephalitis is a viral disease, which gets transmitted to human beings and horses via mosquitoes. If an infected mosquito bites a human then he/she develops Western Equine Encephalitis. This disease also causes "sleeping sickness" in horses. Western equine encephalitis commonly occurs in the western parts of America.

Western Equine Encephalitis does not have any specific treatment or medicines. Supportive treatment is given to the patient suffering from Western Equine Encephalitis, which includes rest, fluids and medicines to manage the symptoms of this disease.

What is Western Equine Encephalitis?

Signs & Symptoms of Western Equine Encephalitis

Symptoms of Western Equine Encephalitis start to appear usually 5 to 15 days after the bite of the infected mosquito. Common Symptoms of Western Equine Encephalitis include:

  • In some cases, Western Equine Encephalitis patient may not have any symptoms. Symptoms, if present, can be non-specific or mild in nature.
  • A minor percentage of Western Equine Encephalitis patients, particularly infants and elderly individuals can develop encephalitis, which is inflammation of the membranes of the brain. Around 5 to 15% of cases of encephalitis are fatal, and half of the infants which survive will suffer from permanent brain damage.
  • Severe cases of Western Equine Encephalitis will exhibit sudden onset of fever, neck stiffness, headache, nausea vomiting, loss of appetite and lethargy.
  • In about 2 to 4 days, this disease worsens and Western Equine Encephalitis patient experiences irritability, disorientation, seizures and finally goes into coma.

Cause & Risk Factors of Western Equine Encephalitis

  • People contract Western Equine Encephalitis through a bite of an infected mosquito.
  • Individuals visiting or living in those regions where Western Equine Encephalitis is prevalent are at an increased risk for contracting this infection.
  • People of all age groups can have Western equine encephalitis.
  • Individuals who participate in outdoor recreational activities or work outside where Western Equine Encephalitis is common are at an increased risk for having this condition.

Treatment of Western Equine Encephalitis

There are no specific medicines or treatment for Western Equine Encephalitis. Supportive treatment for Western Equine Encephalitis is given which includes rest, intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration, medicines for fever, pain, nausea and vomiting are prescribed. Hospitalization may be needed for severe cases and supportive therapy is continued till the acute stage of illness passes.

Prevention of Western Equine Encephalitis

  • It is important to avoid going to the areas which are prevalent in Western Equine Encephalitis. When going outside, always wear full length clothing and mosquito repellent cream should be applied to the exposed parts of the body.
  • It is important to eliminate any standing water present outside your house.
  • Always wear lightweight long pants and long-sleeved shirt when working outdoors.
  • Vaccine is available for horses, and it is important to get them vaccinated.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: April 17, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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