Eastern Equine Encephalitis, sometimes referred to as sleeping sickness, is a disease that is caused by viral spread transmitted through infected mosquitos. The disease is prevalent in all of the Americas and in the United States is most commonly found in the East Coast and Gulf Coast states. The “equine” in the name refers to the fact that most groups of the disease primarily affect horses, however, there are some strains of the virus that mostly affect humans. Typically, the United States sees about 5 to 10 cases of EEE annually, but that number has risen in recent years. It takes anywhere from 4 to 10 days after the initial bite from an infected mosquito to develop symptoms of EEE.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis has been around for hundreds of years and the United States has recorded 12 U.S.-based epidemics between 1831 and 1959. The virus made a comeback in 2019.
Are There Times Of Year When It’s Easier To Get EEE?
The transmission of EEE happens during the months when mosquitos are most active. EEE cases primarily arise from late spring through early fall, but in Gulf Coast states which may remain warmer during the winter, cases have been found in later seasons.
Who Is At Risk For Infection?
Anyone who spends time outdoors in an area of the country where the virus is currently circulating is at risk for being infected with EEE. Those individuals who work or engage in recreational activities outdoors in or around swampy areas of the eastern U.S. are at the highest risk of contracting the disease.
The risk for human infection changes year-to-year depending on several variables including weather, how many birds and mosquitos are available to transmit the virus and human behavior. Additionally, awareness throughout the clinical and medical community and availability of diagnostic testing capability also change how we understand and test for EEE.
What Are Signs And Symptoms?
The only way to be diagnosed with EEE is to get a blood or spinal fluid test through your doctor. These tests will be confirmed as positive if they find any antibodies your system has made to fight the viral infection.
Encephalitic disease is characterized by the swelling of the brain. It is possible for someone with EEE to never develop any symptoms, though typically symptoms usually appear 4 to 10 days after acquiring the infectious mosquito bite. Severe cases of EEE infection start with a sudden onset of flu-like symptoms such as headache, high fever, chills and vomiting. These symptoms may quickly develop into more severe conditions like disorientation, seizures, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and coma. Around one-third of patients with EEE will eventually die and many of those who survive suffer life-long brain damage.
What Can I Do To Prevent EEE?
Currently, there is no human vaccine for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Prevention rests entirely on community and individual efforts to reduce transmission by protecting against mosquito bites. This involves wearing bug spray containing DEET on long-sleeved tops and long pants when outside (use bug spray with DEET sparingly on bare skin),
Contact Ned Stevens Today
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from contracting EEE is to make sure that you make a concerted effort to reduce mosquito breeding sites on your property. Contact a trusted professional service like Ned Stevens Mosquito and Tick Control to help keep your home mosquito-free and keep your mind at ease about contracting EEE at your home. Our licensed and experienced experts will perform a barrier treatment to kill mosquitos. Contact Ned Stevens to set up a targeted plan to perform consistent treatment for mosquitos at your home.