Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a rare, but serious disease caused by a virus that is carried by many species of swamp breeding mosquitoes. EEE virus (EEEV) occurs in the eastern half of the United States where it causes disease in humans, horses, and some bird species. Because of its high mortality rate, EEE is regarded as one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.

Symptoms

The incubation period for Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) disease (the time from infected mosquito bite to onset of illness) ranges from 4 to 10 days. EEEV infection can result in one of two types of illness, systemic or encephalitic (involving swelling of the brain, referred to below as EEE). The type of illness will depend on the age of the person and other host factors. It is possible that some people who become infected with EEEV may be asymptomatic (will not develop any symptoms). Systemic infection has an abrupt onset and is characterized by chills, fever, malaise, arthralgia, and myalgia. The illness lasts 1 to 2 weeks, and recovery is complete when there is no central nervous system involvement. In infants, the encephalitic form is characterized by abrupt onset; in older children and adults, encephalitis is manifested after a few days of systemic illness. Signs and symptoms in encephalitic patients are fever, headache, irritability, restlessness, drowsiness, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, cyanosis, convulsions, and coma. (more)

Prevention

The best way to prevent EEE is to avoid mosquitoes and prevent mosquitoes from breeding. (more)

Transmission

Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which may circulate the virus in their blood for a few days. Infected mosquitoes can then transmit EEE to humans and animals when they bite.