What You Need to Know: Eastern Equine Encephalitis
Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

What to know about the deadly Eastern equine encephalitis virus found in Atlanta

At least four people in Massachusetts have been diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in 2019, and one woman has died from the disease, Boston25News reported. 

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“It’s a very serious illness if it is to infect a person,” Ryan Cira, the environmental health director for the DeKalb Board of Health, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, though humans are rarely infected by the virus.

>> Related: Mosquito tests positive for Eastern equine encephalitis in DeKalb

Here’s what you need to know about EEE:

What is it?

The rare and deadly disease is caused by a virus spread via infected mosquitoes. It can lead to encephalitis or inflammation of the brain.

>> Related: Tick, mosquito and flea infections in US more than triple since 2004, CDC warns

How rare is it really?

Cases of EEE are typically reported around Atlantic and Gulf Coast states, including Florida. About 5-10 cases are reported annually, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How can someone become infected?
The disease is transmitted via the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms of EEE usually appear after 4-10 days after the bite.

A mosquito in metro Atlanta tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis. The rare and deadly disease is caused by a virus spread via infected mosquitoes. It can lead to encephalitis or inflammation of the brain.
Photo: Pixabay

What are some symptoms of EEE virus infection?

Those suffering a severe infection may initially experience headache, chills, high fever, nausea and vomiting. However, the CDC warns, the illness can escalate to seizures, disorientation or coma.

» RELATED: Expert advice to prevent mosquito bites

What does treatment for EEE look like?
Doctors may encourage supportive therapy, which features respiratory support and IV fluids, but there’s no effective anti-viral drug to treat EEE.

How many infected people die of EEE?
About one-third of patients who develop EEE die. Those who survive often suffer mild to severe brain damage, according to public health experts.

Who’s most at risk of contracting the virus?
Anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors, either working in woodland habitats or spending recreational time outside, is at increased risk because of greater exposure to mosquitoes.

>> Related: Here’s why diseases caused by insects are becoming more prevalent

>> Related: Rare tick-borne illness worries some medical professionals

How to reduce your chances of getting infected
It’s all about preventing mosquito bites. Here are some tips from the CDC:

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