EL PASO, Texas — A group of mosquitoes caught in east El Paso have tested positive for the St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) virus, according to state and local health officials, but no human cases have been reported so far.
The virus was detected in mosquitoes in the 79936 zip code who were collected from traps set by vector control in the area.
SLE is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds.
“Vulnerable populations for Covid-19 are some of the same individuals who could be affected greatly by diseases from a mosquito bite,” said Angela Mora, the city’s director of public health. But unlike Covid, there are no vaccines to prevent nor medications to treat SLE.
Mora indicated that symptoms of SLE are similar to West Nile virus and can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, muscle weakness and disorientation. Severe illness from encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain which can lead to coma and paralysis, is more common in adults over 60 but can occur in people of any age.
Health officials reminded El Pasoans to drain nearby pools of water and wear bug spray whenever possible. Residents can report mosquito breeding and standing water by calling the city’s 311 phone line.
Other precautions El Pasoans can take to reduce their risk of mosquito-borne diseases include limiting time outdoors during dawn and dusk hours when mosquitoes are most active – and wearing long-sleeve shirts, pants and socks if you do go out.