Rare Mosquito-Borne Illness Killing Americans

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Rare Mosquito-Borne Illness Killing Americans
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Rare Mosquito-Borne Illness Killing Americans
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At least six Americans have died this year as a result of Eastern equine encephalitis. The disease, spread by mosquitoes, is extremely deadly. Nearly one in three people that contract the disease will die as a result.

Authorities in Michigan say they have identified seven confirmed cases of EEE, three of which resulted in death. Massachusetts has identified ten known instances, with two dying as a result. Rhode Island has identified three cases, with one resulting death.

Additional cases have been identified in New Jersey, North Carolina, and Connecticut. Thankfully, none of the patients in these states have died as a result. Health officials are encouraging residents to take precautions to prevent the illness.

“We strongly encourage residents to take precautions such as using insect repellent with DEET, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors during the peak mosquito-biting hours, which are dusk and dawn,” said James Rutherford, a health officer with Kalamazoo County’s Health and Community Services. One of Michigan’s fatal cases occurred in Kalamazoo county.

EEE can also be deadly to animals. This year, nine confirmed cases of the disease have been identified in horses. Unfortunately, all nine died as a result.

The disease can only be spread through mosquito bites. It cannot be transmitted from one human to another, nor can it be transmitted between humans and other animals.

Health officials say symptoms typically begin to develop around four to ten days after exposure. Early symptoms include headache, high fever, chills, and aches. Later symptoms include brain swelling, seizures, and paralysis.

The illness can be particularly deadly for children and the elderly. Some communities have begun encouraging residents to keep their children indoors at dusk until at least the first frost of autumn.

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