- At least five people have contracted Eastern equine encephalitis in three states
- The virus kills about a third of humans who develop it and several have been left in comas or on life support
- One case is confirmed in each Michigan and New Jersey
- Four confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been verified in Massachusetts where one woman has allegedly died of the disease
- Residents in one town are being warned not to touch dead birds that may be infected – or bring them to local health departments
Officials in New Jersey, Michigan and Massachusetts are advising people to cancel end-of-summer picnic dinners and stay indoors at dusk and dawn to stay safe from EEE-carrying mosquitoes.
EEE – Eastern equine encephalitis – is a virus carried by the insects which causes severe brain swelling and is deadly in 30 percent of cases.
It’s historically rare, striking some 10 horses and people, respectively, a year.
Until this year, that is. Cases have been surging in the US as rising temperatures drive mosquito population booms.
Bites are the primary way the bugs transmit the disease to humans, but officials in one Massachusetts town are begging residents not to touch dead birds that may be infected.
FRAMINGHAM (CBS) — As the risk for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) continues to climb in several cities and towns, schools in these areas are moving sports practices up to make sure students aren’t outside during peak mosquito hours.
Paul Spear overseas the athletic department at Framingham High School, and says as a precaution, all students must be inside by 7:30 p.m.
“We’re ending practices early,” he said. “We’re making sure our kids are aware that they should have insect repellent.”
The sports fields are just steps away from a river and swamp – the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
The city’s public health director, Dr. Sam Wong, says Wednesday’s torrential downpours didn’t help either. The rain created stagnant water near people’s homes, which could make the spread of EEE even worse.