Tenth person in the US dies from the rare mosquito-borne disease EEE, Massachusetts officials report
- An unidentified male in his 70s, from Essex County, Massachusetts has died from Eastern Equine Encephalitis
- The rare disease is transferred by infected mosquito and kills one-third of those who fall ill
- It’s the state’s fourth death this year and brings the nationwide death toll to 10
- Three deaths have been reported in Michigan, two in Connecticut and one in Rhode Island
A Massachusetts resident has died after reportedly contracting the rare mosquito-borne disease Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), bringing the nationwide death toll to 10.
The unidentified patient was a man in his 70s and lived in Essex County, according to a release from the state’s Department of Public Health (DPH).
He fell ill on September 9, although it’s not clear when he died. A local hospital reported the death to state officials.
State health officials also confirmed Massachusetts’s eleventh case after the virus was found in another man in his 70s from Worcester County.
An unidentified male in his 70s, from Essex County, Massachusetts, has died from Eastern Equine Encephalitis. It’s the state’s fourth death this year (file image)
This death marks the fourth in the Commonwealth. There have additionally been three deaths in Michigan, two in Connecticut and one in Rhode Island.
Its growing death toll has led Massachusetts to classifying more communities as at-risk for the virus.
Currently, there are 46 communities considered high risk, 35 communities considered critical risk and 122 at moderate risk.
State health officials have said that the 2019 outbreak is the worst in Massachusetts since the 1950s.
Earlier this month, Massachusetts US Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren requested any research the National Institutes of Health has on EEE.
EEE is a rare disease caused by a virus that is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes.
It was first detected in Massachusetts in 1831 and typically affects about an equal number of horses and humans every year: roughly five to 10.
There is a vaccine for horse who contract the virus, but not humans.
The majority of cases occur between late spring through early fall along the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states
‘Although mosquito populations are declining at this time of year, risk from EEE will continue until the first hard frost,’ Dr Catherine Brown, a state epidemiologist for Massachusetts, said in a statement.
‘We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites.’
Most people don’t develop symptoms, but those who do can experience chills, a fever, a headache and vomiting.
Occasionally, the disease can cause seizures or life-threatening brain swelling (encephalitis).
There is no cure and treatments consists of supportive therapy such as respiratory support and IV fluids.
About one-third of those with EEE die from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials recommend that residents protect themselves by wearing long sleeves and pants as well as bug spray when going outside.
They also suggest draining any standing water from places such as bird baths and buckets because mosquitoes are attracted to still water.