A Dane County resident has died after having the first human case of St. Louis encephalitis in Wisconsin since 1981, health officials said Friday.
The person died after being hospitalized, said Jennifer Miller, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health Services. The cause of death can’t be attributed to St. Louis encephalitis because the person — whose age, gender and identity were not released — had other health conditions, Miller said.
The illness, similar to West Nile virus, is rare, with only six human cases reported in the state since 1964 and no outbreaks ever reported, the health department said.
Like West Nile, St. Louis encephalitis is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. It is not transmitted person to person, the health department said.
The virus can cause fever, headache, nausea and fatigue, typically starting five to 15 days after a mosquito bite. In rare cases, it can cause stiff neck, disorientation, tremors, inflammation of the brain and coma. Older adults and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk.
Like with West Nile, most people infected with St. Louis encephalitis don’t have any symptoms.
People who believe they may have symptoms should see their doctors. There is no specific treatment for the illness.
Mosquito activity has essentially ended for this year, so there is little to no risk of mosquito-borne illnesses in Wisconsin now, the health department said.