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Some perspective on EEE

September 6, 2011

Photo from Wikimedia commons by Alvesgaspar

Over the long weekend, an 80 year old from  Rayhnam, MA  died of Eastern Equine Encephalitis. It’s a pretty severe virus spread from birds to mosquitoes to humans.

I don’t know about you, but I’m always covered with bug bites during the summer. The thought that one nibble from a mosquito could give me a virus with 33% mortality rate and significant brain damage is a little scary.

The ways to prevent getting EEE are pretty obvious- use bug spray, wear long sleeves, and avoid staying out at dark when the mosquitoes are buzzing around.  But before you start panicking, EEE is rare in Rhode Island.  I was stunned by this chart from the Centers for Control and Prevention, mapping the number of EEE disease cases between 1964-2010.

Notice Little Rhody- only six reports of the disease since 1964 (there have been no reports in the Ocean State this year.) So, the likelihood you’ll be number seven is pretty unlikely. Yet, it does look like the cases of EEE are gradually increasing over the years. Check out this chart from the CDC-

The numbers fall up and down, but it’s been nearly 30 years since the nation registered no incidents of EEE. It’s possible the country has gotten better at monitoring and diagnosing the virus, but the recent trend is floating upwards.

So,  no need to panic, but be careful around mosquitoes just in case.

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