By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
Alabama state health officials reported the first human case of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in 2019.
The patient, a Baldwin County resident, became ill in September, has died.
According to Dr. Sherri Davidson, Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) interim state epidemiologist, just because the case counts are low for Alabama, it should not deter people from continuing to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. “Outdoor activities are increasing as the weather becomes more pleasant, like community youth league sports, fall festivals, hunting, and of course, football season. The best treatment is prevention,” Dr. Davidson said.
Severe cases of EEE virus infection (EEE, involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) begins with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures and coma. Approximately a third of patients who develop EEE die, and many of those who survive have mild to severe brain damage. It takes 4 to 10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito to develop symptoms of EEE.
All residents of and visitors to areas where EEE virus (EEEV) activity has been identified and people who engage in outdoor work and recreational activities in endemic areas are at increased risk of infection. Persons over age 50 and under age 15 seem to be at greatest risk for developing severe disease when infected with EEEV.
In addition to this latest case in Alabama, as of October 22, CDC has received reports of 35 confirmed cases of eastern equine encephalitis virus disease for this year, including 13 deaths. Cases have been reported from the following eight states: Connecticut (4), Indiana (1), Massachusetts (12), Michigan (10), North Carolina (1), New Jersey (3), Rhode Island (3), and Tennessee (1).