Public health officials are warning residents in two states to take extra precaution against mosquitoes, as some are carrying a rare, extremely serious virus.
The warnings began Monday when Alabama's public health department confirmed two cases of Eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, had been reported in its Baldwin County, with one case ending in death.
Then on Tuesday, New York's health department confirmed it had found the virus in horses in St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties and in mosquitoes in Onondaga County, all three of which are located in upstate New York. So far, the state hasn't reported any EEE cases in humans.
EEE, which is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, is only found in the U.S. a few times a year, with most cases occurring in swampy areas of eastern or Gulf Coast states, according to the CDC.
Only about 4% to 5% of humans infected with the virus become sick, the CDC says. However, some of these cases can turn severe, with symptoms progressing into seizures, encephalitis — swelling of the brain — and coma.
About 30% of people who become sick with EEE die, and those who survive it often have ongoing neurologic problems, according to the CDC.
There aren't any vaccines to prevent the virus and no specific medicines to treat it, so the best way to avoid getting the severe illness is prevention.
Both the Alabama and New York health departments are asking residents to use insect repellents — particularly at night — and to wear long sleeves and long pants. They also warn against having any standing water around including in pools, trash containers, tires and plants. If you do, they caution to tightly cover or empty them.
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com