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The Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus should be taken more seriously by health officials

The Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus should be taken more seriously by health officials

The Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus should be taken more seriously by health officials
October 25
18:36 2019

Although it’s not the most well-known disease, Eastern Equine Encephalitis is an infection that can cause inflammation of the brain and it is currently on the rise in the United States. There have been 12 deaths in the United States just this year while 31 out of the 109 cases this decade has been reported in 2019 alone.

EEE is transmitted from bites of infected mosquitos and patients usually experience flulike symptoms which can include high fever and nausea. The most severe cases can result in seizures and comas that can lead to brain damage.

While EEE is spreading around primarily in the New England area, there have been several cases and even deaths in Michigan and Florida.  It hasn’t reached the point of being a pandemic like swine flu or Zika yet, but I feel like there should be more awareness brought to this issue. Mosquitos are common in places that have higher percentages of humidity because they are attracted to heat and moisture. In fact, mosquitos need water to reproduce so this climate is vital for them to sustain life.

Though the virus seems to be appearing in the United States, I feel Americans in non-affected regions should not push this threat aside. Infected mosquitos can travel to border states and reproduce there, thus creating a domino effect of this deadly virus. I’m not saying that the EEE virus is going to be the next major outbreak, but if we spread more awareness of this virus on say, social media and other news outlets, we can possibly neutralize a potential future outbreak. Of course, scientists do care about the risks of this virus because a vaccine is already being placed on the market, but at the moment it is only for horses.

So, what can people do to lessen the risk of getting infected? Mosquitos are attracted to dark colored clothes because the clothing can absorb heat and mosquitos have highly sensitive heat sensors. This means that they will lock their vision onto the target and go in for the bite.

To put yourself at less risk, wear clothes with primary colors. Floral scents attract mosquitos so it is best to avoid strong perfumes and scented lotions. There are also other factors such as sweat and blood type that can attract mosquitos but everyone’s body is different and that also needs to be considered.

Still this doesn’t eliminate the disappointment I feel that officials haven’t placed a vaccine on the market for humans. The lives of animals should obviously be valued, but this disease has primarily affected humans more and there have been more casualties from this disease in the past year from humans than animals, so the priorities seem a little out of line.

The only advice we’ve gotten from the CDC to prevent infection is to simply avoid getting bitten by mosquitos by using repellant and wear long sleeved shirts and pants. I am glad that we can get an answer from the CDC, but it is a bit frustrating that the advice they gave boils down to common sense.

The rare silver lining in this situation is that summer is now over and it’s starting to cool down so mosquitoes are not as prevalent. But, that doesn’t mean mosquitos can’t thrive in swamps and wooded areas, so those are best to avoid until further notice.

While health officials are still overall dismissive about this threat, a hard question still remains in how many more deaths are we willing to sacrifice until we wait for nature to drive this virus out for us?

Featured Illustration: Thomas Strimpel

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Adrian Maldonado

Adrian Maldonado

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