The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has confirmed 10 human cases of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and 3 resulting deaths, this year. EEE is an illness spread by mosquitos and is very rare in humans. However, if a person is infected, they can experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, nausea and brain swelling, in the most severe cases.
Approximately 30 percent of humans who contract EEE die within two to 10 days of showing symptoms.
While there is not currently a cure or treatment for EEE, there are important steps everyone can take to prevent the disease, especially if you are in one of the 203 communities at moderate (or higher) risk in Massachusetts.
Limit Outdoor Activity
Limit outdoor activity from dusk until dawn. If you are going to be outdoors, avoid wooded areas if at all possible. If you must be outside, wear insect repellent and clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible. Thicker materials that fit loosely are ideal for preventing mosquito bites.
Wear Insect Repellent
Whenever you will be outside, wear insect repellent. Look for repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, PMD, or IR3535. All of those insecticides are considered safe when used as directed.
Concentrate the repellant on thin-skinned areas of your body, as that is where mosquitos prefer to bite. This includes the ankles, feet, lower legs, and wrists.
Protect Your Home
Keep window and door screens in good condition, especially if you keep them open. Also eliminate any areas that contain standing water. Standing water can serve as mosquito breeding grounds. Encourage your neighbors to take the same precautions.
If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms after receiving a mosquito bite, locate a nearby medical provider for immediate treatment. While there is not a treatment for EEE directly, a medical provider can help diagnose and hopefully treat the symptoms of EEE.
Remember that this fall, EEE can spread quickly in your local communities. However the disease is very rare and preventable with just a little bit of precaution!