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We are pleased to bring you the 20th edition of Fast Facts. This is a brief report on
local data that we believe you will find useful in both understanding and improving the
health of our community. Our goal is to keep it brief and instructive and to provide opportunities for all persons to positively impact the issue. Please feel free to forward to colleagues, board members, legislators and others in the community. 

Mosquito-borne disease is once again in the news with the emergence of Chikungunya in the Caribbean and now in Florida.  Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism on planet Earth -- over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year.[i] 


Mosquito-Borne Disease

Mosquito-borne diseases are among the most complex of all infectious diseases to prevent and control.  The list of diseases includes Malaria, Dengue, LaCrosse Encephalitis, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) Chikungunya and West Nile Virus (WNv).  


More than 30,000 people in the United States have gotten West Nile virus disease since 1999, and of those, almost 13,000 have been seriously ill and over 1,200 have died. Many more cases of illness are not reported to CDC, but it's likely that more than 300,000 people from almost every state have been sickened in the 12 years since WNv came to the U.S.[i] 

LaCrosse can occur in all age groups; however severe disease occurs most often in children under the age of 16. In rare cases, long-term disability or death can result from La Crosse encephalitis. 

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is a rare illness in humans, and only a few cases are reported in the United States each year.  However, it is one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the U.S. with approximately 33% mortality and significant brain damage in most survivors.[ii]  While we have not had a case in Indiana as of yet, it has occurred in southern Michigan. 

Chikungunya commonly occurs in Africa, Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, and islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.  However in late 2013, chikungunya was found for the first time in the Americas on islands in the Caribbean.  From 2006-2013, studies identified an average of 28 people per year in the U.S. with chikungunya virus.  Beginning in 2014, 497 cases have been identified in the U.S. in travelers returning from the Caribbean.  This infection results in fever and severe joint pain that can relapse.


For most of these viral illnesses, there is no treatment and prevention is key.  With the exception of malaria, mosquito repellent is the only true prevention measure.




Click the link below for statistics on mosquito-borne disease.

  • In a study of the economic impact of WNv in the U.S., the CDC reports that in the 14 years since the virus was first detected in the US, hospitalized cases of WNv disease have cost a cumulative $778 million in health care expenditures and lost productivity.[i]
  • Vector control costs in terms of mosquito surveillance and testing, larvacide and insecticide, spraying equipment and labor costs are very expensive as well.  In 2013, the estimated total mosquito season cost in Allen County alone was $44,476.75 - and this does not include costs for vehicles, equipment and building. 
  • The estimate cost to spray one mile (using 2011 costs) in Allen County is $23.60.        


What You Can Do


 As a health care provider:    

  • Advise parents and caregivers about the risks of mosquito-borne diseases and proper use of mosquito repellent.
  • Advise patients who are traveling to always pack mosquito repellent.
  • Consider mosquito-borne diseases in immunocompromised patients with fever and neurologic symptoms (or arthralgia if recently traveled outside country).
As a parent:
As a funder or public official:
  • Allocate funding for mosquito surveillance and ongoing primary prevention measures.
  • Be prepared for emergency allocation for secondary prevention measures associated with outbreaks identified by public health officials.


Helpful links:

Fast Facts is a collaboration of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and
United Way 2-1-1 of Northeast Indiana
  Contact Deborah McMahan, MD or John Silcox
 c/o Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health