Florida health officials say mosquito-borne virus that causes brain swelling, death detected in state
Heads up, Floridians: A dangerous and potentially deadly mosquito-borne virus has been detected in the state, the Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) announced late last week.
“Several sentinel chickens in the same flock” tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV), per the DOH-Orange, which noted, “the risk of transmission to humans has increased.”
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EEE, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a rare disease that’s spread by infected mosquitoes. EEEV “is one of a group of mosquito-transmitted viruses that can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis),” the federal health agency says.
EEE is more common in Atlantic and Gulf Coast states, though the CDC said some cases have been reported in the Great Lakes area. It’s rare; only 5 to 10 cases are reported each year in the U.S.
Symptoms of EEE typically appear four to 10 days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. Severe cases of the virus “begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting,” per the CDC, which noted, “the illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, and coma.”
One-third of those infected with EEEV die, while survivors typically have “mild to severe brain damage.”
There’s no specific treatment for the infection, either.
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“Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, and no effective anti-viral drugs have been discovered. Severe illnesses are treated by supportive therapy which may include hospitalization, respiratory support, IV fluids, and prevention of other infections,” the CDC says.
The best way to prevent EEEV and other mosquito-borne ailments is by draining standing water (like in birdbaths, in buckets or on pool covers), and covering skin clothing and using DEET-containing insect repellent when outside.