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Eastern Equine Encephalitis

(EEE)

Definition

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is an infection spread by a bite from an infected mosquito. While EEE is rare, it can be serious and in some cases, fatal.

Effect on Encephalitis on the Brain

Swollen brain
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes    TOP

EEE is caused by a virus.

Risk Factors    TOP

The greatest risk factors for EEE are spending time in areas where mosquitoes are present, such as wetlands and swamps. Another risk factors is failing to use insect repellent.

Other factors that may increase your chances of EEE:

  • Being over 50 years old or younger than 15 years old
  • Having a condition that affects your immune system

Symptoms    TOP

Most people with EEE do not have any symptoms.

If symptoms do occur, they may appear in 4-10 days and include:

  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Vomiting

EEE can lead to more serious, life-threatening symptoms of inflammation of the brain, like altered mental status, weakness, numbness, paralysis, seizures, and coma.

Diagnosis    TOP

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Questions may include:

  • Where you have been living or traveling
  • Whether you have been exposed to mosquitoes

A blood test or a test of your spinal fluid is commonly used to confirm the diagnosis of EEE.

Imaging tests may include:

Treatment    TOP

Treatment for EEE focuses on supportive care. Severe symptoms require hospitalization, which may include:

Prevention    TOP

To help reduce your chances of EEE:

  • Stay inside when mosquitoes are most active (at dawn and at dusk).
  • Repair screens on your windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from getting into your house.
  • Use proper mosquito netting at night. Look for netting treated with insecticide.
  • When outside, wear insect repellent, long pants and long-sleeved shirts to limit exposure to bites.
  • Eliminate insect breeding areas. These may include areas of standing water, like pet water bowls, rain barrels, and other containers.

RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
https://www.ninds.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

References:

Eastern equine encephalitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/easternequineencephalitis. Updated April 5, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2017.
Eastern equine encephalitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated February 4, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2017.
Encephalitis: an overview. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscoho.... Updated March 9, 2012. Accessed December 7, 2017.
Mosquito avoidance. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115142/Mosquito-avoidance. Updated November 21, 2016. Accessed December 7, 2017.
Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 12/20/2014

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