By Madeline Farber
Published October 14, 2019
An Indiana resident has died from the rare but serious mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), health officials announced over the weekend.
The resident was from Elkhart County. His or her case marked the first human one in the state since 1998 and only the fourth reported since 1964, according to a news release from the Indiana Department of Health provided to Fox News.
“It's hard to imagine losing a loved one because of a mosquito bite, but unfortunately, mosquitoes carry diseases that can be life-threatening,” Dr. Kris Box, state health commissioner, said in a statement. "This is a tragic loss from an Indiana family."
EEE — a rare disease spread by infected mosquitoes — is known to cause brain inflammation. Survivors typically have mild to severe brain damage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC). One-third of those infected with EEE die.
Symptoms of a severe EEE infection “begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting,” the CDC says.
There’s no specific treatment for the infection; antibiotics are not effective and no antiviral drugs have been discovered to date.
"Severe illnesses are treated by supportive therapy, which may include hospitalization, respiratory support, IV fluids, and prevention of other infections,” the federal health agency says. On average, five to 10 cases of EEE are reported each year in the U.S.