What is EEE?
Summertime in New England brings delightful weather and plenty of opportunities for outside fun. It also brings with it potential for health issues that can be avoided — like EEE. Also called Triple E or Eastern Equine Encephalitis, EEE is a rare disease caused by a virus spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The EEE virus can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or swelling of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).
In the United States, approximately five to ten EEE cases are reported each year. In our area of eastern New England, EEE usually occurs between late spring through early fall. The risk is highest for people who live, work or participate in outdoor activities near wooded or swampy areas in the eastern U.S.
It can take four to ten days after the bite of an infected mosquito to develop symptoms of EEE. Mild symptoms include fever and joint/muscle aches. Severe symptoms are fever, chills, headache and vomiting, which may progress to disorientation, seizures, and coma. People can be diagnosed based on blood or spinal fluid tests and treatment is generally rest, fluids and in severe cases, hospitalization.
There are ways to prevent the risk of getting bitten by an infected mosquito.
- Use insect repellent containing DEET and use a permethrin application on clothing.
- Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors — as weather permits.
- Check to ensure your home has window and door screens to prevent bugs from coming inside.
- Mosquitos are often most active at dusk, dawn and during early evening hours — try to reduce being outside during these times.
- Eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from outdoor flower pots, buckets, containers, wading pools and such.
Contact your physician or Emerson Urgent Care if you have any symptoms of EEE. With these tips — plus a mask and social distancing — you can enjoy the great outdoors this season!
Allan Kuong, DO, FACEP, of Emerson Urgent Care provided this information. To make an appointment or for more information, visit emersonurgentcare.org.
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