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Deadly mosquito-borne virus found in Mobile Co.


MOBILE, Ala – A fatal mosquito-borne virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), has been discovered in Mobile County. According to the Mobile County Health Department, chickens used to detect such diseases have tested positive for EEE.

EEE, which is a mosquito born encephalitis, was tested and confirmed by laboratory results. According to the Center for Disease Control, EEE is one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States.

“There are no benefits to being bitten by a mosquito,” Dr. Bernard H. Eichold said. Eichold is the Health Officer for the MCHD. “Don’t let your guard down. EEE has a human mortality rate of between 50 and 75 percent.”

A 75 percent mortality rate is substantial, especially when compared to other mosquito-borne illnesses like West-Nile that carry a mortality rate of 15 percent.

The risk of encephalitis spread by mosquitoes is highest from August through the first freeze in the fall, Dr. Eichold explained. Jerry Folse, the director of MCHD’s Vector Services, said his department will step up control efforts in the surrounding area.

The CDC says most persons infected with EEE have no apparent illness. Severe cases of EEE (involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma. Click here for more symptoms.

The process of transmission of EEE is from bird to mosquito to bird. Mosquitoes can spread these viruses by feeding on the blood of infected birds, then biting another host animal or mammal such as a human. The MCHD said EEE cannot be spread from human to human.

Although the virus is usually found on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, it can spread. With no vaccine for humans, it is crucial for people to take proper precaution. Here are tips from the MCHD and the CDC to help you stay safe:

  • Use repellent: When outdoors, use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin and/or clothing. The repellent/insecticide permethrin can be used on clothing to protect through several washes. Always follow the directions on the package.
  • Wear protective clothing: Wear long sleeves and pants when weather permits.
  • Install and repair screens: Have secure, intact screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs near you: Mosquitoes can lay eggs even in small amounts of standing water. Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels, and tires. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Empty children’s wading pools and store on their side after use.

For more information on EEE, visit the CDC website.

Jeremy Law for | © 2017, City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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