Massachusetts Department of Health Reports Second Human Case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis

BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) has confirmed eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in a Holbrook resident who died last week.  EEE infection was established in the Holbrook teen through tests performed at the State Laboratory Institute on Sept. 1, 2004.  He was initially admitted to the hospital on Aug. 23.  This is the second fatality this year from EEE.  The first case, reported on Aug. 12, was a male Brockton resident in his 60s who later died from the infection.


EEE is a rare human disease, with fewer than 50 cases having been reported in Massachusetts since 1940.  Similar to West Nile virus (WNV), the virus that causes EEE is transmitted to humans by bites from infected mosquitoes.  Symptoms of EEE infection in humans include a sudden onset of high fever, stiff neck, headache, mental confusion and lack of energy.  These symptoms appear two to ten days after infection.  Inflammation and swelling of the brain, called encephalitis, is the most dangerous complication.  Encephalitis can worsen quickly and patients may go into a coma within a week.  The risk of transmission of EEE virus is greatest in August and September and continues until mosquito activity ends after the first hard frost.


MDPH encourages anyone who develops symptoms of EEE infection, such as sudden onset of high fever, stiff neck, headache, mental confusion and lack of energy, to seek medical attention as soon as possible.


MDPH has identified 18 mosquito specimens as positive for the EEE virus to date in 2004.  The specimens were collected between July 28, 2004 through Aug. 25, 2004 from Bristoland Plymouth  Counties from the towns of Easton, Norton, Raynham, Middleboro, Halifax, New Bedford and Kingston.


Source: Massachusetts Department of Health