Eastern Equine Encephalitis or EEE is not a new disease, but up until recently, it’s been so rare that it has probably not been discussed as much as many other mosquito-borne illnesses. Fast forward to today: On September 19th the New York Times reported 5 dead this year from EEE. The deaths have occurred in Michigan, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. 3 of the deaths were in Michigan, where there have been 7 confirmed cases. That’s an almost 50% death rate. According to Michigan’s chief medical executive, this is the worst EEE outbreak in a decade. Connecticut, New Jersey, and North Carolina have also issued official warnings about EEE over the last month.
It’s getting real out there.
EEE Transmission, Symptoms, Treatment
EEE is transmitted to horses and humans through the bite of a mosquito. It can cause inflammation of the brain, which is what makes it so dangerous. Approximately one-third of all humans that contract it will die, according to the CDC. For horses, the mortality rate is about 90% - fortunately, there is a vaccine available for horses.
There are two ways in which you can be affected by EEE, systemic illness or encephalitic illness. Systemic causes chills, fever, malaise, joint point. This typically lasts a couple of weeks and complete recovery is likely. Encephalitic is the type that can become deadly. Its symptoms can include fever, headache, irritability, anorexia, vomiting, convulsions, and even coma. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for EEE. Treatment for the symptoms aka supportive treatment is the only option.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis Prevention
The CDC fact sheet states that there is an average of 7 reported cases of EEE per year, nationwide. The article referenced above in the New York Times talks of double that amount this year. So as taking precautions against mosquito bites is always important it could be just a little more so right now. Not only wearing repellent that contains DEET and long sleeves and pants when outside for an extended period but also repairing holes in screens at home and checking that door seals are tight.
The 7Ts of mosquito control are a must this year and every year as you truly never know when an outbreak like this can occur. Keeping your yard clear of the places that mosquitoes love to breed helps to eliminate the chance of mosquito growth now as the season comes to an end as well as counteracting the quick appearance of a new flock in the spring.
Mosquito control and elimination really is the best solution for lowing your risk for the diseases that mosquitoes carry and the best source of elimination is our barrier treatment at Mosquito Squad of West St. Louis County. It eliminates 90% of existing mosquitoes and continues to work for up to 3 weeks. There’s no need to live in fear of mosquito-borne illnesses when you take proper precautions.