Travel News August 22, 2019
Mosquitoes Carrying The EEE Virus Have Been Spotted In Massachusetts
Mosquitos always rear their ugly heads during the summer, but one particular type is more than simply a nuisance. Pathogenic insects carrying the EEE virus, which can lead to coma and permanent brain damage, have been spotted in Massachusetts. Here’s what you need to know:
Eastern equine encephalitis virus, or EEEV, has four different subtypes.
The most common variety here in the U.S. primarily affects humans, while horses most often fall ill in Central and South America. About 4-5% of cases will progress to what is known as "sleeping sickness," or encephalitis, which can result in permanent brain damage.
Although it is most prevalent in humans, EEE began as an equine illness. 75 horses died from the disease in 1831, and people started falling ill just over a century later.
EEEV is transmitted solely via the bite of an infected mosquito.
These insects actually don't feed on people, but rather seek out the blood of birds. A handful of different mosquito species, known as bridge vectors, bite the fowl and transmit EEEV to humans. Despite the virus' name, horses are not capable of spreading it.
Over the past 10 years, between three and 15 cases of EEE were reported annually in the U.S.
Massachusetts, Florida, New York, and North Carolina are the states most susceptible to outbreaks. So far in 2019, two Massachusetts residents have been infected.
Initial symptoms of EEEV typically present rather abruptly, including fever, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, joint pain, and fatigue.
Sleeping sickness doesn't rear its head for 3-10 days after the bite, and is characterized by sudden high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, seizures, and coma.
Diagnosis is made via a CT or MRI scan. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the virus; about 33% of people whose EEEV progresses into sleeping sickness will die.
Supportive treatment involves IV fluids and assisted respiration, however survivors may still incur permanent brain damage.
Summer poses the highest risk for contracting EEEV, especially in pediatric and elderly individuals who live near wetland and swampy areas.
People who spend a considerable amount of time outside should consider using insect repellent, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding standing water.
CDC’s website to learn more.
Did you know about these dangerous insects? Let us know your thoughts! Read out previous article for more Massachusetts bugs:
These 16 Bugs Found In Massachusetts Will Send Shivers Down Your Spine.