Mosquitoes can carry a variety of viruses including the West Nile Virus, the Saint Louis Encephalitis virus, and the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus.
The EEE virus typically circulates back and forth between Culiseta melanura mosquitoes and birds, because Culiseta melanura mosquitoes do not tend to feed on humans. However, the virus can be transmitted if other mosquito species (e.g., Aedes, Coquillettidia, and Culex) bite infected birds and then bite humans.
Once a person is infected with the virus, an incubation period of four to 10 days follows. Then the EEE virus infection can take one of three general directions: no symptoms; systemic infection, causing symptoms of fever, chills, joint pain, and muscle aches; or encephalitis, resulting in fever, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, drowsiness, lack of appetite, seizures, coma, and potentially death.
One third of people who develop EEE do not survive. Death can be rapid, as soon as two to 10 days after symptoms appear. Those who do survive can be left with lingering mental and physical impairment, such as difficulty thinking, personality disorders, seizures, paralysis, and various types of nervous system dysfunction.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for EEE. Doctors will try to reduce the amount of brain swelling and assist with breathing as much as possible, but once EEE develops, the aim is to keep the patient alive and minimize damage until the infection passes.
Florida, Massachusetts, and New York report the most cases of EEE. According to the CDC, the number of reported neuroinvasive cases of EEE has averaged around seven per year.
Source: Forbes, July 29, 2019