Cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis Popping Up in the U.S.

August 20, 2010

The Detroit Free Press is reporting today that two cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) have been reported in Kalamazoo, Mich. and that public health officials are expected to continue to warn people about avoiding mosquito bites, the cause of this rare but potentially deadly viral infection. The Detroit Free Press says that James McCurtis, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Community Health, says that one person is recovering while the other individual remains hospitalized.

Reuters is reporting that four Florida residents have died from EEE.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEV) is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. It is a rare illness in humans, and only a few cases are reported in the United States each year. Most cases occur in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states. Most persons infected with EEEV have no apparent illness. Severe cases of EEE (involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma. EEE is one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States with approximately 33 percent mortality and significant brain damage in most survivors. There is no specific treatment for EEE; care is based on symptoms. People can reduce their risk of being infected with EEEV by using insect repellent, wearing protective clothing, and staying indoors while mosquitoes are most active.