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EEE in Massachusetts

There were 12 human cases of EEE in Massachusetts in 2019, and three cases resulted in death. Over 60% of all EEE cases in our state have occurred in Plymouth and Norfolk counties. It’s safe to say that this virus hits home and that each summer we’re all worried about our loved ones getting it. 

We at F&W are here to calm your nerves when it comes to EEE. We’ve been providing mosquito control in Eastern Massachusetts since 1943, so we’ve studied this rare virus for over 75 years. This blog will educate you on EEE so you know what exactly it is, what to look out for, and how to prevent it.

A heat map of EEE in the state of Massachusetts, curtesy of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Heat map is curtesy of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

What is EEE?

Eastern Equine Encephalitis—more commonly known as EEE—is a rare virus that causes an infection in the brain. The swelling of the brain tends to cause patients to go into a coma just within one week of showing symptoms. It is transmitted through mosquito bites, which is why EEE is most common during the summer. Mosquitoes with EEE are more often found near bodies of lakes, ponds, and swamps. 

What are the Symptoms of EEE?

When one begins to show symptoms of EEE, many believe it is a bad cold, the flu, or some other type of bug. Symptoms tend to show anywhere from three to 10 days after a bite from an inspected mosquito. If you begin to show any of these symptoms during the summer months, especially if you’ve been outside a lot or have any new mosquito bites, it’s important to go to the doctor right away to be tested.

The symptoms of EEE are:

  • High fever, usually between 103 and 106
  • Stiff neck
  • Headache
  • Lack of energy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Inflammation and swelling of the brain (encephalitis)

Is There a Cure for EEE?

As of today, there is no approved human vaccine or preventative measures, such as a flu shot, for EEE. Because of this, approximately 33% of all people who contract EEE will die. Those who recover from EEE may have permanent neurological disabilities, such as a nerve disorder or epilepsy. The sooner you see a medical provider about your symptoms, the more of a chance you have of survival and making a complete recovery. 

How to Prevent EEE

Since we know that EEE is spread by mosquitoes, the best EEE prevention tips include anything related to mosquito control.

  • Sign up for a recurring mosquito control program. Having professional mosquito control will help as the exterminators should eliminate adult mosquitoes as well as larvae from your property.
  • Remove areas of standing water. Mosquitoes thrive in damp conditions, so be sure to regularly check bird baths, gutters, bins, swimming pools, and kids toys that may pool water after rain.
  • Avoid spending too much time outside during the day as mosquitoes are most active then.
  • Avoid certain types of clothing. Wear long pants, socks, close-toed shoes, and a long-sleeved shirt when possible—especially if you work outdoors.
  • Use bug spray repellent. Because we know it’s hard to wear cold-weather clothing during the summer, use bug spray anytime you go outside and reapply as necessary.

Still Have Questions About EEE?

EEE is hard to understand, and sometimes nerve-wracking to research on your own. The CDC and Massachusetts Department Public of Health have great resources for EEE. If you’re concerned about symptoms, don’t hesitate to see your doctor or go to the emergency room—remember, the sooner you seek help, the higher the chance of survival. If you’re wanting to take steps for preventing EEE by signing up for a recurring mosquito control program, contact the professionals at F&W today. We’re more than happy to begin preventing mosquitoes in your yard and protect your loved ones from this virus.

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