St. Louis encephalitis virus was first identified as the cause of human disease in North America after a large urban epidemic in St. Louis, Missouri, during the summer of 1933. Since then, numerous outbreaks of St. Louis encephalitis have occurred throughout the continent. In south Florida, a 1990 epidemic lasted from August 1990 through January 1991 and resulted in 226 clinical cases and 11 deaths in 28 counties. This epidemic severely disrupted normal activities throughout the southern half of the state for 5 months and adversely impacted tourism in the affected region. The accurate forecasting of mosquito-borne arboviral epidemics will help minimize their impact on urban and rural population centers. Epidemic predictability would help focus control efforts and public education about epidemic risks, transmission patterns, and elements of personal protection that reduce the probability of arboviral infection. Research associated with arboviral outbreaks has provided an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses associated with epidemic prediction. The purpose of this paper is to review lessons from past arboviral epidemics and determine how these observations might aid our ability to predict and respond to future outbreaks.
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