Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is a rare but serious disease caused by a virus. The virus — which is more virulent than West Nile — can cause inflammation of the brain that leads to death in about one-third of cases. People who do survive are often left with brain damage.
The highest chance of infection in humans is typically August, though the peak time for transmission extends through September, officials said. So far this year, 37 communities in Massachusetts have been found to be at high or critical risk for EEE. Aerial sprays have been targeting Worcester, Middlesex and Bristol counties to reduce the mosquito population.
How is the EEE virus spread?
The virus that causes EEE is spread by an infected mosquito by biting an animal or human. In Massachusetts & Rhode Island, mosquitos carrying the disease live around freshwater and swamps have a much higher chance to carry EEE.
EEE virus particularly infects birds, often with no evidence of illness in the bird. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite infected birds. The mosquitos then carry the disease and infect other animals or humans who are not contagious once infected.
How common is EEE in Massachusetts & RI?
EEE is a very rare disease. However, this year cases are on the rise. It is important you follow the recommended guidelines from your towns authorities to protect yourself and family.
What are the symptoms of EEE?
The first symptoms of EEE are fever (often 103º to 106ºF), stiff neck, headache, and lack of energy. These symptoms show up four to ten days after a bite from an infected mosquito. Inflammation and swelling of the brain, called encephalitis, is the most dangerous and frequent serious complication. The disease gets worse quickly and some patients may go into a coma within a week.
Keep yourself, your family and your pets safe! Have your yard sprayed by the mosquito guy!