News Releases > State Officials Warn Eastern Equine Enchephalitis Reported in Northern Indiana (ISDH)
INDIANAPOLIS - State officials warn residents of the state's most northern counties Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a concern in their area. Health officials report EEE has been identified in mosquitoes in Elkhart County.
"Eastern Equine Encephalitis is potentially a very serious disease that can cause lifetime neurological disabilities. The only encephalitis of greater severity to humans than EEE is rabies," said Jennifer House, DVM, veterinary epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health. "The combined threat of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus in northern counties of the state makes it vital for residents in those areas to take steps to prevent mosquito bites."
Dr. House is urging people to protect themselves by:
· Avoiding being outdoors from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
· Applying insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin when outdoors.
· Wearing shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors from dusk to dawn.
· Making sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.
· Using mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is caused by a virus that is usually transmitted between birds and mosquitoes, like West Nile virus (WNV). The virus is found in mosquitoes and birds that live in freshwater, hardwood swamps. Humans and horses only get EEE when bitten by infected mosquitoes and cannot spread the virus. Mosquitoes must feed on infected birds to spread the virus.
State health officials say although Eastern Equine Encephalitis is rare, 30 percent of people who develop the disease may die, making it one of the deadliest mosquito-borne diseases in the United States. According to the State Department of Health, approximately half of those who survive EEE illness will have permanent neurological problems.
Most people infected with the virus will not have symptoms. Health officials say if symptoms occur, they will normally show up 3 to 10 days after people are bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms of EEE include: fever, malaise, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and eye pain when exposed to light, weakness, paralysis, confusion, incordination, seizures, and loss of consciousness. There is not a vaccine available to prevent the disease in humans, nor is there a specific treatment.
State officials are urging Hoosiers to take steps to prevent the spread of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, including eliminating all sources of standing water that serve as breeding sites for mosquitoes, like gutters, birdbaths, old tires, water troughs and puddles. Even small, shallow pools can produce a crop of mosquitoes in as few as five days. People, as well as animals, should avoid being outdoors around dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
There is a vaccine to prevent the infection for horses. Horse owners are advised consult with their veterinarians regarding vaccinations for both WNV and EEE.