Health officials say EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.
An average of 7 human cases are reported in the country annually, but 2019 has seen far more in what health officials are calling an outbreak.
- Jason Carr hosted a live discussion Tuesday morning with Dr. Frank McGeorge. Watch above.
Here are the key points:
What is EEE?
- Eastern equine encephalitis is a disease caused by a virus spread from infected mosquitos that can cause inflammation of the brain.
- Viruses spread by mosquitos are referred to as arboviruses. West Nile is another kind of arbovirus.
- EEE virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Transmission does not occur directly from person to person.
- Only about 4-5% of human EEEV infections result in EEE.
- It takes 4 to 10 days after the bite from an infected mosquito to develop symptoms of EEE.
- Symptoms include: sudden onset of fever, chills, body and joint aches, severe encephalitis, headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures, and paralysis.
- People who experience symptoms are urged to see a doctor as soon as possible. Those infected could get permanent brain damage, go into a coma, or die.
- The virus is built up in a particular area through an amplification cycle:
- Infected mosquitos feed on birds, infecting them in the process.
- Uninfected mosquitos then feed on infected birds and become infected themselves.
- EEE is typically found along the East Coast and Gulf Coast, along with the Great Lakes region.
- Once an area has a hard frost, mosquito activity dies down and the virus goes dormant until spring.
- A vaccine has been developed for horses, but no human vaccine is available.
- In the US, an average of 7 human cases of EEE are reported annually.
- The disease kills one-third of patients and leaves 80% of survivors with mild to severe brain damage.
- Read more: Eastern Equine Encephalitis (CDC)
EEE in Michigan
- As of Sunday, EEE was confirmed in nine people and three have died in six counties.
- Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties
- Cases have also been confirmed in 30 animals from 15 counties.
- Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Genesee, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Livingston, Montcalm, Newaygo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties
- Aerial treatments for several counties were scheduled for Sunday night, but were postponed due to weather.
- Areas of Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties were set for treatment Monday night. A small part of northern Washtenaw County will also be treated.
- Aerial spraying is used to control and reduce the number of mosquitos and reduce the chances for a virus to spread.
- Airplanes spray very low volumes of adulticide or larvicide in areas where mosquitos are spreading viruses.
- Larvicides kill larvae that hatch from eggs within 1-4 days.
- Adulticides kill adult mosquitos immediately.
- Read more: What You Need to Know About Aerial Spraying
How to protect yourself from EEE
- Apply insect repellents.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts.
- Use window and door screens.
- Eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying water from buckets, kiddie pools and tires.
Parts of nation see worst outbreak...in more than a half-century [article]
- Three have died in Michigan, three in Massachusetts, two in Connecticut and one in Rhode Island.
- Michigan's EEE outbreak is its worst in more than a decade. Massachusetts, with 12 cases, is seeing its worst outbreak since 1956.
- Aerial sprays have taken place a record six times this year in Massachusetts.
- "It looks like 2019 is clearly the beginning of our next outbreak," said Catherine Brown of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
- Brown believes EEEV is more widespread this year because of an ongoing extended period of warm weather.
- Warm weather speeds up the reproduction process of mosquitos and the life cycle of the virus.
- Brown says that outbreaks are often caused by a new strain being introduced to a region.
- She believes a new strain of EEEV came to the Northeast from birds migrating from Florida.