By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
Massachusetts health officials reported yesterday on four additional confirmed cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus infection in horses from Holliston, Medfield, Brookfield and Granby.
This brings the total number of horse cases of EEE to seven in Massachusetts this year.
There have been four confirmed human cases of EEE this year.
“As we head into the Labor Day weekend and the month of September people should not forget to bring and use an EPA-approved mosquito repellent for any outdoor activities,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “The peak time for transmission of mosquito-borne illness extends through September here in Massachusetts.”
All residents throughout the Commonwealth should continue to use mosquito repellent and those in high and critical risk communities should consider staying indoors during the dusk to dawn hours to reduce exposure to mosquitoes.
“Horses and other mammals are an important part of mosquito-borne disease surveillance because they are exposed by the same kinds of mosquitoes that can expose people,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown.
EEE is a rare but serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. EEE occurs sporadically in Massachusetts with the most recent outbreak years occurring from 2004-2006 and 2010-2012. There were 22 human cases of EEE infection during those two outbreak periods with 14 cases occurring among residents of Bristol and Plymouth counties.
EEE virus has been found in 366 mosquito samples this year, many of them from species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is spread to horses and humans by infected mosquitoes, including several Culex species and Culiseta melanura.
Symptoms of EEE disease often appear 4 to 10 days after someone is bitten by an infected mosquito.
EEE is a more serious disease than West Nile Virus (WNV) and carries a high mortality rate for those who contract the serious encephalitis form of the illness. Symptoms may include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, and sore throat. There is no specific treatment for the disease, which can lead to seizures and coma.
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