Local News

Health Officials Warn About Eastern Equine Encephalitis

Posted July 6, 2003

— West Nile Virus is not the only mosquito-borne illness people need to worry about this summer.

Health officials warn that

Eastern Equine Encephalitis

is moving up the coast. The disease is rare but deadly.

There have been 153 confirmed cases in the U.S. since 1953. Symptoms range from mild flu-like illness to frank encephalitis, coma and death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, individuals at the most risk of contracting EEE are residents of endemic areas and visitors, and persons with outdoor work and recreational activities.

Four horses in North Carolina have the virus.

Mosquitos, which carry the EEE virus, thrive in standing water. There is plenty of that at local lakes and other local areas after all the recent rainfall.

Many lakes have had to close some of their campsites because of high water. More than 80 percent of the campsites are still under water at Kerr Lake, where officials were forced to postpone the lake's July 4 festivities until Labor Day weekend.

Health officials say the best protection from any mosquito-borne illness is to wear protective clothing and plenty of insect repellant.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is spreading up the East Coast. As of this weekend, Florida had the most confirmed cases, with 99 horses infected.

Thirteen cases have turned up in Georgia, and 17 in South Carolina.

Virginia didn't have any reported cases entering the weekend. But officials have sent warnings to horse owners across the state.

Only one human case has been confirmed this year. A man in Georgia died of the virus last month. It has been estimated that as many as 50 percent of people infected with EEE die from it.

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