Planning to travel north to see some fall color this weekend?
If so, you should check first for some of the places — including popular travel destinations Michigan and Wisconsin— for Eastern Equine encephalitis virus.
Good News, Bad News
OK, first the bad news. Going to Michigan?
A fourth Michigan resident has died from Eastern Equine Encephalitis, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.
EEE has been confirmed in nine people. Thirty-three animals have also had EEE. Michigan’s EEE outbreak is the state’s worst in more than a decade, according to USA Today.
In Wisconsin, the virus has only presented in some horses in Barron, Waushara and Green Lake counties.
The good news is that EEE is still fairly rare, although rates in 2019 have been high.
More bad news is that the disease kills one-third of patients and leaves 80% of survivors with mild to severe brain damage.
What is Eastern equine encephalitis?
According to the Centers For Disease Control, EEE is a rare disease that is caused by a virus spread by infected mosquitoes. EEE virus is one of a group of mosquito-transmitted viruses that can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).
In the United States, approximately five to 10 EEE cases are reported annually.
How do people get infected with EEEV?
EEEV is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Disease transmission does not occur directly from person to person.
Who is at risk for infection with EEEV?
Anyone in an area where the virus is circulating can get infected with EEEV. The risk is highest for people who live in or visit woodland habitats, and people who work outside or participate in outdoor recreational activities, because of greater exposure to potentially infected mosquitoes.
- Read more: Eastern Equine Encephalitis (CDC)
EEE in Michigan
- As of Wednesday, EEE was confirmed in nine people and four 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
What are the symptoms of EEE?
It is possible that some people who become infected with EEEV may not develop any symptoms. When symptoms develop they may include chills, fever, headache, vomiting, malaise, muscle aches and joint aches.
The illness lasts one to two weeks, and recovery is complete when there is no central nervous system involvement. The illness can then progress into disorientation, seizures or coma. EEE is one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States.
What is the treatment for EEE?
There is no specific treatment of EEE, treatment of symptoms are the usual management of cases.
How does one avoid getting EEE?
The best way to prevent EEE or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and neighborhood and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Here are some suggestions:
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
- When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
- Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
- Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, including water in birdbaths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles. In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.