Rare mosquito-transmitted viral infection found in Erie, Carbon, and Monroe Counties

Local News

The Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Health announced they are warning Pennsylvanians to take precautionary measures against a rare mosquito-transmitted viral infection.

The mosquito-transmitted viral infection called Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has been confirmed in Erie, Carbon, and Monroe Counties.

A wild turkey in Erie County has tested positive for EEE. The bird was found in Waterford Township.

The State Department of Environmental Protection will conduct further mosquito trapping and testing in the area where it was found later tonight.

If the mosquitoes the DEP captured test positive for EEE, then insecticide spraying will take place on Tuesday.

EEE is a virus carried by birds. If a mosquito bites an infected bird it can then transmit the potentially fatal virus to humans, horses, and other birds. Because of the high mortality rate in horses and humans, EEE is regarded as one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.

Through mid-September, there have been 18 cases reported to the CDC from across the country in 2019, with the majority of the cases in northeastern or Mid-Atlantic states. Several cases have been fatal.

When outdoors, people can avoid mosquito bites by using DEET-containing insect repellents and covering exposed skin with lightweight clothing.

The symptoms of EEE are:

  • High fever (103º to 106ºF),
  • Stiff neck
  • Headache
  • Lack of energy

These symptoms typically show up three to ten days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Inflammation and swelling of the brain, called encephalitis, can develop.

The disease gets worse quickly, and some patients could end up in a coma within a week. This disease can also be fatal, as three out of every ten people who get the disease die from it.

Horse owners are encouraged to proactively vaccinate against both EEE and West Nile Virus, keep animals indoors at night, and spray for mosquitoes. Vaccines for Eastern, Western, Venezuelan, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis are available from veterinarians.

Pennsylvania’s recently confirmed cases include a wild turkey, pheasants, and horses. Pennsylvanians are encouraged to take every precaution to protect against this rare, neurological disease and immediately contact their physician or veterinarian if symptoms present.

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