A mosquito-born viral disease. The EEE virus normally is found in freshwater swamp birds and mosquitoes that do not bite people. However, the virus is occasionally transmitted to other types of mosquitoes capable of biting horses and people. The risk of contracting EEE is highest in mid-to-late summer. The mosquitoes are killed by frost.
Symptoms: Most people bitten by an infected mosquito will not develop any symptoms. Severe cases of EEE infection begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and coma.
Treament: There is no cure for EEE. Treatment consists of corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, and supportive measures (treating symptoms) such as intravenous fluids, tracheal intubation, and antipyretics. The disease can be prevented in horses with the use of vaccinations. These vaccinations are usually given together with vaccinations for other diseases, most commonly WEE, VEE, and tetanus. Most vaccinations for EEE consist of the killed virus.
Epidemology: Several states in the northeast US have seen increased virus activity since 2004. Between 2004 and 2006, there were at least 10 human cases of EEE reported in Massachusetts. In 2006, approximately 500,000 acres (2,000 km2) in southeastern Massachusetts were treated with mosquito adulticides to reduce the risk of humans contracting EEE. In October 2007, a citizen of Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland became the first European victim of this disease.