Summer is around the corner and so are mosquitoes infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis, better known as EEE. If you live on the United State’s East Coast then you have no doubt heard of EEE which is now considered to be the most serious mosquito-born disease in the United States. But who is really at risk and how can you protect yourself?
If you are anything like me, anytime you get bit by a mosquito you have without a doubt been infected with EEE. In the good old days I used to just get a touch of the West Nile Virus. AHHH the good old days. With maps of infected areas being broadcast on the evening news how am I supposed to ease my overactive imagination this summer? With facts and figures of course.
The number of confirmed EEE cases in the United States from 1964-2004 was 220. That’s enough to make you wet the bed at night. That averages out to be just 5 confirmed cases per year of Eastern Equine Encephalitis. What makes those figures even better is that not all of the confirmed cases of EEE were in humans. Horses and birds are also victims of Eastern Equine Encephalitis. There is actually a vaccine available to protect equines. Well, that’s great for the horses but what about me? I am not a horse, I am a girl.
Since there is no vaccine for EEE available to humans we have to avoid coming in contact with a mosquito infected with EEE. You may say “mosquitoes are everywhere, how can I avoid them?”. Well you are right, mosquitoes are everywhere but there are a few things you can do to reduce the chance of one of those mosquitoes sucking you dry.
How To Avoid Mosquito Bites
- Use EPA-registered insect repellent that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus
- Reduce the amount of exposed skin by wearing long sleeves or long pants when weather permits
- Use extra caution during peak mosquito hours – dusk till dawn
- Clear your yard of mosquito breading spots – anything that will allow standing water to accumulate
- Make sure all of your screens are free of rips or larger holes that would allow mosquitoes to enter your home
If you are in a region that is known to have cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis such as Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts and New Jersey you should definitely be taking the above precautions to avoid EEE. If you have followed the above precautions and you still got bit, here are a few signs to look for that will give you an inkling that you are about to die.
Symptoms of EEE
- Mild flu-like symptoms
- Sore throat
- Sudden fever
- Severe headache
Symptoms of EEE usually occur between 4 and 10 days after being bitten with an infected mosquito. Sadly about half of the patients infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis will die from this virus and those who do not die usually have brain damage that will require institutionalized care for the remainder of their life.
Taking into consideration the outcome for patients infected with EEE, treating the virus IS NOT an option. Avoiding mosquito bites is the only way to have a positive outcome in regards to Easter Equine Encephalitis. Do not get bit by a mosquito this year and you won’t have to worry about dying from EEE. It’s simple.