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July 12, 1965


JAMA. 1965;193(2):150-151. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090020064016

Of more than 60 αthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) now etiologically associated with human illness, St. Louis encephalitis virus was the first to be characterized as the cause of a mosquitotransmitted urban epidemic of acute febrile, often fatal, central-nervous-system disease.1 The 1933 epidemic of encephalitis in St. Louis was also the first epidemic in the United States in which laymen and physicians associated the term "sleeping sickness" to the dreaded complication of long survival of patients in coma, after severe and irreversible brain damage resulting from the viral encephalitis. It is the insidious and unpredictable distribution of attacks, apprehension of the irreversible neurological sequelae, and the lack of an effective vaccine for protection that are largely responsible for the fear and reaction which arises in a community afflicted with an epidemic of this disease. Control must reduce numbers and activity of specific arthropod vectors, rather than limiting the