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News 8 On Call: What you need to know about Eastern Equine Encephalitis

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Eastern Equine Encephalitis– Triple E — is on the minds of many. It’s the rare cause of brain infections.

This summer, there have been nine human cases reported across New England.

Two people have died from EEE which is transmitted by mosquitoes. So far, there are no human cases in our state. But mosquitoes have tested positive for it.

Dr. Theodore Andreadis with Yale School of Public Health who also heads up the Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station explains, “We can go several years when we don’t see any activity at all. This year is really extraordinary. I have never seen this much activity over such a wide geographic region as we’ve had this year. We believe it’s introduced into the Northeast with migrating birds that come up the eastern seaboard along the coast.”

Why is this season more active? Dr. Andreadis says contributing factors include a mild winter and a wet spring, “That seemed to be the confounding fact that led to the high population of the mosquitoes, then thirdly, you had to have the virus introduced with birds at the appropriate time early in the spring where these mosquitoes could start feeding on them.”

What are the symptoms for EEE?

He answers, “Some people will get infected and have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. In most cases, especially among young children and elderly can be quite severe. You have high fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting and then it develops into the encephalitic form where you’ll get convulsions and the individual can slip into a coma. Those who do survive, in many cases, have permanent neurological damage.”

Treatment?

Dr. Andreadis says, “There is no specific treatment because it’s a virus. There are no antibiotics. So the treatment is strictly supportive, just as you would with West Nile Virus. It’s basically, can the individual overcome this viral infection.”

Dr. Andreadis is concerned about the next couple of weeks with warm temperatures lingering, “We just have to get through the next couple of weeks and then we’ll be okay but people should continue, if you’re going to be out in the early evening hours, no matter where you are in the state, assume there are infected mosquitoes around areas where you’re being bitten and use repellents.”

Don’t forget to wear long clothing to protect yourself.

There has been one death in our state — a man in his 40’s died from Triple E in 2013.

Dr. Andreadis says we are not out of the woods completely until that first hard frost.

Do you have a health question? Send it to News8oncall@wtnh.com

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