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.
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.
Risk factors for developing serious symptoms from EEE include:
- Being over 50 years old or younger than 15 years old
- Having a condition that affects your immune system
Most people with EEE do not have any symptoms.
If symptoms do occur, they may appear in 4-10 days and include:
- Neck stiffness
- Joint and muscle pain
EEE can lead to more serious, life-threatening symptoms of inflammation of the brain, like altered mental status, weakness, numbness, paralysis, seizures, and coma .
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 for EEE focuses on supportive care. Severe symptoms require hospitalization, which may include:
- Mechanical ventilation (breathing support)
- IV fluids
- Medication to control seizures
- Medication to decrease brain swelling
To help reduce your chance 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.
- Reviewer: David L. Horn, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 12/2014 -
- Update Date: 12/20/2014 -