Western Equine Encephalitis

(WEE)

Definition

Western equine encephalitis (WEE) is a virus spread by a bite from an infected mosquito. While WEE is rare, an infection can be serious or fatal.

Causes

WEE is caused by a virus. The virus is passed through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of WEE include:
  • Living in or visiting the plains regions of western and central United States
  • Doing activities outdoors and not using insect repellent

Symptoms

Most people with WEE do not have any symptoms.If symptoms do occur, they appear within 5-10 days after infection and include:
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Neck stiffness
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Vomiting
WEE can lead to more serious, life-threatening symptoms like inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), seizures, and coma . These serious symptoms are more common in infants and older adults.
Encephalitis
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Diagnosis

In addition to taking your medical history and doing a physical exam, your doctor will ask you:
  • What kind of symptoms you are experiencing
  • Where you have been living or traveling
  • Whether you have been exposed to mosquitoes
Your doctor may need to test your bodily fluids. This can be done with:
  • Blood tests
  • Cerebrospinal fluid tests to evaluate the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord
Imaging tests to evaluate the brain can be done with:

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