CDC reports death in first human case of EEE virus in Indiana of 2019

FILE: In this Aug. 26, 2019 photo, Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District biologist Nadja Reissen examines a mosquito. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that a person in Elkhart County has contracted eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, and died as a result of the infection.

This is the first human case in Indiana since 1998 and only fourth reported since 1964. The CDC says approximately five to 10 human cases of EEE are reported nationwide each year, and nearly one-third of those are fatal.

EEE has been found in more than a dozen horses and one mosquito sample in northern Indiana this year.

Mosquito activity decreases with cooler temperatures, but the risk of mosquito-borne diseases will not be eliminated until the first hard freeze occurs.

People can protect themselves from getting the virus and other illness through mosquito bites by taking preventative measures:

  • Avoid being outdoors during times when mosquitoes are active —
  • Use good insect repellent
  • Cover exposed skin where mosquitos are active, especially in wooded areas
  • Make sure windows are properly screened to keep mosquitos out of homes

There are also simple ways to keep mosquitos away from your property:

  • Discard items that can hold water like tires and flower pots
  • Repair failed septic systems
  • Drill holes in outdoor trash and recycling bins
  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed
  • Lean roof gutters
  • Frequently replace water in pet bowls
  • Flush fountains and birdbaths
  • Stock decorative poolsl with predatory fish

Typical symptoms of EEE in humans may include chills, fever, body aches and joint pain. In severe cases, the virus can affect the nervous system and cause encephalitis — inflammation of the brain.

People younger than 15 and older than 50 are especially at risk of severe cases if they get EEE. If you think you may have EEE, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Learn more about EEE from the ISDH here. To find information data from ISDH about mosquitos in Indiana, click here.

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