Life-threatening mosquito-borne brain swelling disease detected in Delaware
- EEE is a cousin of Venezuelan equine encephalitis, one of the 37 viruses earmarked by the WHO as the biggest threats to public health
- There is no cure or treatment for the virus transmitted by mosquitoes
- Delaware officials say it has been detected in chickens but no humans yet
A potentially fatal brain-swelling disease has been detected in mosquitoes in Delaware, officials warn.
Eastern equine encephalitis (also known as EEE or Triple E) is a cousin of Venezuelan equine encephalitis, which is one of the 37 viruses earmarked by the World Health Organization as the biggest threats to public health.
It was first detected in Massachusetts in 1831, but has remained rare – affecting a handful of horses and only about five to 10 humans each year.
As such, there is little demand to study it, and to this date no cure for the virus, which leaves most survivors with permanent brain damage, and kills a third of sufferers.
Health officials urge people in Delaware, and other coastal cities in mosquito season, to make sure they don’t leave out any containers in the rain, because mosquitoes are drawn to bodies of water that they can nest in
On Friday, Delaware officials warned sentinel chickens in the counties of New Castle, Kent and Sussex have contracted EEE.
‘No human or equine cases of EEE or [West Nile virus] have been reported to date this year in Delaware,’ officials said.
EEE thrives in coastal areas, and has rarely been spotted outside the Eastern US.
Catching EEE does not always have devastating implications; most will never develop symptoms.
Those that do, will experience a sudden headache, fever, chills and vomiting, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In some cases, it develops into seizures and a coma.
It is hardly surprising that there is no cure or treatment for EEE. Not only is it rare, but humans still have yet to come up with a robust way to treat any virus – be it EEE or measles.
Antibiotics were a breakthrough for bacterial infections (though decreasingly so as superbugs build up resistance to the life-saving drugs). But to combat viruses, our best bet is vaccines. And for EEE, there isn’t one.
Health officials urge people in Delaware, and other coastal cities in mosquito season, to make sure they don’t leave out any containers in the rain, because mosquitoes are drawn to bodies of water that they can nest in.