What are the Symptoms of EEE and What is the Treatment for EEE?

How do you know if you have the EEE virus and what should you do?

What is the EEE virus that you've heard so much about the last few months?  EEE stands for the Eastern Equine Encephanitis virus, which can be transmitted to humans from an infected mosquito.  Three people have died from EEE in Connecticut this year and another person has become ill.  Towns like South Windsor are now having to take precautions.

Who is Most at Risk for EEE?

All residents of and visitors to areas where EEEV activity has been identified are at risk of infection. People who engage in outdoor work and recreational activities in endemic areas are at increased risk of infection. Persons over age 50 and under age 15 seem to be at greatest risk for developing severe disease when infected with EEEV.

Before this year, no human cases of EEE had been reported in Connecticut since 2013, according to the Department of Public Health.

What are the Symptoms of EEE?

It takes four to ten days after the bite of an infected mosquito to develop symptoms of EEE, DPH says. Severe cases of EEE virus infection result in encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

The incubation period is 4 to 10 days.

Symptoms of systemic infection include:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Arthralgia (joint pain)
  • Myalgia (muscle aches and pains)
These symptoms can last 1 to 2 weeks.
Symptoms of encephalitic infection (involving swelling of the brain) include:
  • fever
  • headache
  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • drowsiness
  • anorexia
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • cyanosis
  • convulsions
  • coma
Many who recover from this form of the illness have lasting mental or physical impairment.

Is There a EEE vaccine?

There is no human vaccine for preventing EEE and there is no specific antiviral treatment for EEE.

What do You do if You Think You Contracted EEE?

Consult your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis. Diagnosis is based on tests of blood or spinal fluid, according to the CDC. These tests typically look for antibodies that the body makes against the viral infection. Severe illnesses are treated by supportive therapy which may include hospitalization, respiratory support, IV fluids, and prevention of other infections.

How do You Prevent EEE Infection?

  • The best ways to prevent infection include:
  • Use bug spray
  • Wear long sleeves and pants/Cover bare skin
  • Avoid spending times outdoors during or after dusk until dawn

Is EEE Always Deadly?

About a third of patents who develop EEE die.  Death usually occurs 2 to 10 days after the onset of symptoms, but can occur much later, according to the CDC.

How Common is EEE?

An average of 7 human cases of EEE are reported every year.  Connecticut only had 1 reported case from 2009 to 2018.

Are Instances of EEE Rising This Season?

As of late September, instances of EEE occurrence are actually on the decline though the disease is still a threat.

So What Will Help With EEE?

Mosquitoes are cold-blooded and cold air from winter will slow them down and decrease their activity.  The first frost of the season will help put them into a deep-sleep or hibernation, but true relief won't come until a true freeze.

Where has EEE been Found?

EEE has primarily been found in the southeastern part of the state this year.  Some of the mosquito species that tested positive for the virus are known to bite both people and horses.

The following towns in Connecticut have had positive test results in mosquitoes for EEE in 2019:
  • Chester
  • Groton
  • Haddam
  • Hampton
  • Killingworth
  • Ledyard
  • Lyme/Old Lyme
  • Madison
  • North Stonington
  • Plainfield
  • Shelton
  • South Windsor
  • Stonington
  • Voluntown
There have been a total of 104 positive tests of mosquitoes in Conn. for EEE this year.
Massachusetts has had a higher number of cases this year confiming 11 human cases and four deaths.
Here are some tips from the Mass. Department of Public Health:

Avoid Mosquito Bites

Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535) according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.


Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours

The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning in areas of high risk.


Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites

Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from skin.


Mosquito-Proof Your Home

Drain Standing Water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by draining or discarding items that hold water.

Install or Repair Screens. Keep tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.


Protect Your Animals

Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. If an animal is suspected of having WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR, Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to the Department of Public Health (DPH) by calling 617-983-6800.

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