Emergency department management of mosquito-borne illness: malaria, dengue, and West Nile virus

Emerg Med Pract. 2014 May;16(5):1-23; quiz 23-4.


Up to 700 million people are infected and more than a million die each year from mosquito-borne illness. While the vast majority of cases occur in endemic tropical and subtropical regions, international travel and migration patterns have increased their prevalence in North America. This review discusses the diagnosis and treatment of the 3 most common mosquito-borne illnesses seen in the United States: Plasmodium falciparum malaria, dengue, and West Nile virus. With no pathognomonic findings, it is critical that emergency clinicians in nonendemic areas maintain a high index of suspicion, conduct a thorough history/travel history, and interpret indirect findings to initiate prompt and appropriate treatment. This review gathers the best evidence from international public health resources, surveillance studies, guidelines, and academic research to give emergency clinicians tools to combat these potentially lethal infections.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Culicidae
  • Dengue / diagnosis
  • Dengue / epidemiology
  • Dengue / therapy*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insect Bites and Stings
  • Malaria, Falciparum / diagnosis*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / epidemiology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Travel
  • United States
  • West Nile Fever / diagnosis*
  • West Nile Fever / epidemiology
  • West Nile Fever / therapy