An adult resident of Liberty County has died after contracting Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), according to a press release from the Coastal Health District.
The virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no way to verify exactly where the virus was contracted, and everyone is encouraged to take precautions against mosquito bites.
EEE is a mosquito-borne virus that causes swelling of the brain. In horses, it is fatal 70 to 90 percent of the time. Horse and large animal owners are encouraged to vaccinate their animals against the virus and to clean out watering sources, such as buckets and troughs, every three to four days to prevent mosquitoes from breeding there.
EEE is rare in humans; however, humans are susceptible to the virus. Previously, there have been 2 cases of EEE in the 8-county Coastal Health District since 2010, with one death in 2018. According to the CDC, most people infected with EEE do not show illness. Symptoms in severe cases of EEE include a sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The primary mosquito that transmits EEE breeds in freshwater swamps.
Residents are always encouraged to follow the 5Ds of mosquito bite prevention:
· Dusk/Dawn – Avoid dusk and dawn activities during the summer when mosquitoes are most active.
· Dress – Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
· DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquito bites.
· Drain - Empty any containers holding standing water - buckets, barrels, flowerpots, tarps - because they are breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
· Doors – Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly, and fix torn or damaged screens to keep mosquitoes out of the house.
One of the best ways to prevent mosquito breeding and the spread of mosquito-borne viruses is to get rid of standing water around the home and in the yard. Residents are urged to clean up around their homes, yards, and communities and get rid of unnecessary items that can hold water and turn into mosquito breeding grounds by using the “Tip ‘n Toss” method. After every rainfall, tip out water in flowerpots, planters, children’s toys, wading pools, buckets, and anything else that may be holding water. If it holds water and you don’t need it (old tires, bottles, cans), toss it out. It’s also a good idea to change water frequently in outdoor pet dishes, change bird bath water at least twice a week, and avoid using saucers under outdoor potted plants.
For containers without lids or that are too big for the Tip ‘n Toss method (garden pools, etc.), use larvicides such as Mosquito Dunks© or Mosquito Torpedoes© and follow the label instructions. These larvicides will not hurt birds or animals. In addition, clean out gutters, remove piles of leaves, and keep vegetation cut low to prevent landing sites for adult mosquitoes.
For more information on mosquito-borne diseases, go to cdc.gov