Two states have health officials warning the public to avoid mosquito bites due to the presence of Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus. This virus is spread by the bite of mosquitoes infected with the virus.
In Alabama, two cases of the virus have been reported, one of which was fatal. The virus has also been detected in horses and mosquitoes, but there have not been any human cases reported in New York.
In a Monday news release, the Alabama Department of Public Health stated that the cases in Baldwin County were reported 'in recent weeks'.
The State Department of Health released a press release on Tuesday stating that the virus was found in New York in horses from St. Lawrence, Franklin and Onondaga counties, and mosquitos from Onondaga County.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only a few cases are reported each year in the US, typically in states along the Gulf Coast or Eastern coast. It can, however, cause a very serious illness. The CDC states that 'approximately 30% of EEE patients die, and many survivors suffer from ongoing neurologic issues'.
There is no specific medication or vaccine to treat the virus.
The New York Department of Health says that people of all ages can be infected, but those under 15 and over 50 are most at risk. Most people who are bitten by infected mosquitoes will not show any symptoms. However, severe cases can cause a sudden headache, high temperature, chills, and vomiting. It can progress to disorientation, seizures and encephalitis.
Avoiding mosquito bites is the best way to prevent infection. The CDC recommends insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Wear long sleeves and long pants when you are outside. Clothing can also be treated to repel or kill mosquitoes with 0.5% permethrin. Look for any standing water on your property where mosquitoes may lay their eggs.