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Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a disease transferred by mosquitoes, was recently reported by Massachusetts to have infected its first confirmed human case. The man, approx. 60 years old, got sick around July 28th and sought immediate medical treatment. It was learned that he contracted the disease while vacationing in the mid-Atlantic. Several states have reported the increased emergence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis within horse populations, including New York, North Carolina, and a number of cases in Alabama, but this seems to be the first human case reported.
Encephalitis causes inflammation of the brain. While encephalitis can actually be caused by West Nile virus, and even herpes simplex 2, the equine strain of encephalitis is direct and deadly. Cases of EEE are extremely rare, however, it is possible that due to the warm temperatures seen throughout 2012 mosquitoes are out in full-force, spending more time communicating this disease from mammal to mammal, making cases more prevalent.
There have also been several reports of mosquitoes testing positive for EEE, though no known human cases have erupted from their existence. The condition is so severe that several horses have expired from the condition within just hours of displaying symptoms. Unfortunately, because the disease is so contagious among horses, those animals who exhibit symptoms must be immediately euthanized to prevent the spread of this disease. It is suggested that symptoms of encephalitis present similarly to those of meningitis, a spinal bacterial infection.
Common symptoms of Encephalitis Include:
Confusion Fever Painful headache Stiff neck and back Eyes sensitive to light Nausea and vomiting Lack of energy Drowsiness
Severe Symptoms of Encephalitis Include:
Seizures Tremors Personality changes Memory loss Hallucinations
If you, or someone you know, is displaying symptoms of this fatal disease, seek medical attention immediately. A doctor must confirm diagnosis and prescribe the proper regimen of antiviral, antibiotic, or supportive fever and pain reducer medications.
The best way to act upon Eastern Equine Encephalitis is to avoid it. There are many steps you can take to keep yourself, loved ones, and pets safe from this condition.
Wear mosquito repellant– DEET is a suggested product, as it is effective and readily available. You can also use lemon eucalyptus. Lower concentrations of DEET are ok on children (as stated by the CDC), but follow packaging instructions for age restrictions and dosages. Do not use lemon eucalyptus on kids under 3. Be aware of prime mosquito hours – Avoid spending time outside if the local mosquito population is out on parade. The less interaction with these pesky bugs, the better for your health. Mosquitoes carry a number of communicable diseases that can be harmful to humans. Clothing helps limit mosquito bites – Wear long sleeves and pants as much as you can to keep the bugs away from your skin. Drain standing water – Mosquitoes love stagnate water. It works as a breeding ground for the as this is where they lay their eggs. Rain gutters are a perfect place for stagnate water, especially if there is debris clogging the drain pipe. This is a huge mosquito attractant and should be cleaned regularly. Fix window and door screens – Mosquitoes are small and sneaky, they will find their way in. Do you best to keep them out. Protect your pets – Again, empty anything that can have stagnate water in it. This includes flower pots, buckets, gutters, or even kiddy pools. Not only will the mosquitoes come to lay eggs in this water, but most animals will drink it if it is at standing level.