Pest Borne Diseases: Eastern Equine Encephalitis

December 23, 2019

Many people are now fully aware that mosquitoes transfer several diseases like dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever, West Nile fever, and Zika virus.  However, not many people are aware that there is one other disease that mosquitoes transmit, and it is potentially deadly as well: the Eastern equine encephalitis.  

Well, the reason that a few know about this is that this disease is actually rare in the United States. As for the trusted mosquito exterminator company in North Carolina, only 1 in 200,000 Americans are infected with it, or .000005.  It is almost like no one gets it here in the States based on this statistic, but still, it is present here and cannot be ignored.

In this article, we will discuss in detail what Eastern equine encephalitis is, where it comes from, and how to avoid it.  

What Is Eastern Equine Encephalitis?

If you know what the word“equine” means, or at least sounds familiar and are wondering why it is attached to the disease’s name, it is because this disease not only affects humans but horses as well.  

This is a disease that is caused by a virus that is spread by a mosquito. It is an inflammation of the brain and the virus that causes it is called the Eastern equine encephalitis virus. Most cases have occurred in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states. In the United States, there are about 5 to 10 cases of this disease yearly, according to the Center for Disease Control. There are rare cases wherein this disease is caused by bacteria or fungi. The transmission does not happen between humans, nor can it be passed down from horses to humans.  

The Eastern equine encephalitis virus is said to virus go back and forth between the mosquito type Culiseta melanura and infected birds. This type of mosquito, also known as a black-tailed mosquito, does not feed on human blood.  Transmission to humans of the virus happens when other species of mosquitoes, like the Aedis, Coquillettidia, and Culex species feed on the blood of birds that are infected with the EEE virus, then, later on, feeding on the blood of a mammal or human.

Who Are At Risk?

When this disease strikes, it can be deadly. People who live in an area where the virus has spread are all at risk of getting encephalitis. Risks are higher, though, on any of these circumstances: if a person works, plays, or is always fond of the outdoors or around wooded swampy areas are at higher risk; children or the elderly are also at a higher risk; and people with a weak immune system. 

Horses are susceptible to acquiring this disease. Many of the cases involving horses are fatal, but humans are not affected by it. This is because horses are considered dead-end hosts for the virus.   

Signs & Symptoms

About 33% of all people infected with this disease die. Death may occur 2 to 10 days after the symptoms show. It is therefore important to watch out for the signs of the disease.

The eastern equine encephalitis virus’ incubation period is 4 to 10 days.  Infection can result in systemic and neurologic infections.

Signs of systemic infection include fever, chills myalgia, malaise, and arthralgia. The infection lasts 7 to 14 days. Recovery is expected if there are no signs of infection in the central nervous system. 

For a neurologic infection, signs and symptoms include headache, vomiting, fever, behavioral changes, diarrhea, seizures, drowsiness, and coma.

In infants and young children, signs and symptoms are bulging in the fontanels, nausea and vomiting, stiffness of the body, poor feeding, and irritability.

Seek immediate care from a healthcare professional when these symptoms show. There is no human vaccine to protect us against Eastern equine encephalitis.

For horse owners, the initial signs that your horse may have eastern equine encephalitis include lethargy, depression, wandering, poor appetite, increased excitability, weakness in hind limbs, and a high fever that may last for 1 to 2 days. Late-onset symptoms include stumbling, convulsions, twitching of the face and limbs, loss of coordination, paralysis, and coma. When horses get to this late-onset stage, they rarely survive. Oftentimes, euthanasia is recommended to get them out of their misery.

Treatment For Eastern Equine Encephalitis

If a person is suspected of having this disease, a healthcare provider must immediately be consulted due to the high mortality rate of those who contracted this disease.  An apt serologic and other diagnostic tests should be ordered. Supportive treatment should also be given to the patient.  There is still no vaccine or antiviral treatment for EEV infections.  

Mosquitoes Are The Transmitters Of This Disease

To be able to beat the eastern equine encephalitis virus, we will have to know the source: mosquitoes.

This only adds to the notoriety of mosquitoes. Not to cause panic, but mosquitoes are the deadliest creatures on the planet.  

Mosquitoes are tiny insects, they are about .125 to .75 inch in length and weigh .000088 ounces. They look very fragile. Their bodies are slim and are jointed and with six legs  They have a pair of wings attached to their bodies. They have prolonged mouthparts called a proboscis, and antennae attached to their heads.  They fly at a speed of only 1.5 miles per hour and do seem to be clumsy fliers. 

They are considered to be the world's most dangerous creatures.  This is because they have caused more deaths than all the wars combined.  Every year, they kill millions of people all over the world.

The Culiseta melanura mosquitoes are the specific type of mosquitoes that transmit this disease. They are also known as the black tail mosquitoes.They belong to the family Culicidae. Blacktail mosquitoes go through 4 stages in their lifetime. They begin from being eggs to pupae, to larvae, and finally to adults. These mosquitoes are mutivoline insects and can produce eggs twice annually. Adult black tail mosquitoes like to lay eggs on the water that is cool and acidic.  

Adults black tail mosquitoes have bluntly rounded abdominal tips that look like those of Culex. They have a long, curved proboscis. They have antennae attached to their heads, with wings that are about 4 mm in length, and with white scales on the side of its head. Its thorax is covered in scales.  

Stop Mosquitoes To Stop EEE

Now that we all know that mosquitoes are mass murderers, we should all take steps in destroying them before they destroy us.  We do not need to wait for signs that we have mosquito infestation; they are very visible and even audible. Once you think you have mosquitoes around, here are a few things you can do to get rid of mosquitoes.

1. Use mosquito repellents.  In particular, choose the one that is labeled as containing the active ingredient DEET and is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.  This gives you added protection.

2. Mosquitoes thrive in water that has remained stagnant for at least 7 days.  This is their preferred breeding area. Remove any items that can hold standing water.  These items include old cans, old tires, abandoned birdbaths, old gutters, water containers, and other similar items.  If you cannot throw these items for some personal reasons, just empty, wash, and scrub these items.  

3. When going outdoors, choose appropriate clothing.  Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. This will minimize the exposed skin that would be available to the mosquitoes for biting.  

4. Indoors, mosquitoes somehow find their way inside the bedrooms.  They can detect the carbon dioxide emitted by their possible hosts.  They also detect the scent. Use a mosquito net while you sleep to keep you protected from these insects.

5. You may also protect yourself from mosquitoes by using an electric fan.  Electric fans disrupt their flight patterns because they are so lightweight.  

6. When traveling, choose a hotel that has air conditioning and screens on windows and doors. 

With these tips, you can certainly stay away from dangerous mosquitoes. However, you might still find eradicating mosquitoes such a herculean task because of their enormous numbers.  

Not to worry!  If this is the case for you, then you can call on the professionals. For best places to call to get rid of bugs, you can count on Go-Forth Pest Control!

Go-Forth Pest Control Is Simply The Best!

No home or pest is the same, and there are definitely no cookie-cutter solutions. At Go-Forth Pest Control, we have professional technicians who will examine your home and your lawn to evaluate your individual necessity. We will identify points of entry and make treatments as necessary. We only use state of the art equipment to keep up with these ever-evolving pests. 

We are using family-friendly and pet-friendly methods of extermination that caters to your specific needs. Our expert experience in exterminating pests like mosquitoes, cockroaches, wasps, weevils, rats, bed bugs, mice, flies, termites, ants, and poisonous spiders can really make you say goodbye to these pests in your home. You may check us on Facebook or Google us to see what our satisfied customers have to say about us.

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