Given the copious amount of news coverage on the Zika outbreaks, as well as the aggressive public health campaign to convince people to take precautions against disease-carrying bugs, most Americans probably think that they are well aware of the diseases that mosquitoes can spread to humans. However, a recent finding in North Carolina will cause many people to think twice about this assumption. Researchers in North Carolina captured several mosquitoes that had been carrying a life threatening virus, but you have likely never heard of this particular mosquito-borne disease. The virus is known as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and two cases have already been reported in one single county. The virus is a threat to both humans and horses. Luckily, no human cases of EEE have been reported in the United States this year, but one horse has already died as a result of sustaining a bite from a mosquito that had been carrying EEE.
In Onslow County, North Carolina, researchers have found more EEE-carrying mosquitoes. These mosquitoes can spread the devastating virus to humans and horses through one single bite. According to Pamela Brown, Community Relations Officer for the Onslow County Health Department, some people who contract EEE may show no symptoms, while others may develop flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. If you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms, then a visit to the doctor is in order. Those that contract the disease, but fail to seek medical attention, can rapidly develop more serious medical issues, including seizures, coma and sometimes death. Using repellent every time you step outdoors and being mindful of areas that contain standing water can prevent bites from infected mosquitoes. The CDC states that EEE is one of the most significant mosquito-borne diseases in the US. Thirty three percent of Americans who contract EEE die as a result of the virus. Most people who survive the disease will sustain serious brain damage as a result of brain swelling.
Had you ever heard of EEE? Does learning about this virus make you concerned for your safety this summer?