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A distinction we don’t want in Massachusetts – highest number of human EEE cases


shutterstock_horse_and_dog_West_Nile_Virus_testing Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is not something that is just a concern for horse owners and lovers. The potentially fatal disease can be spread to humans with a tremendously scary outcome. While rare in humans, EEE is one of the most harmful mosquito-borne diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) EEE has a 33% mortality rate and most survivors experience significant brain damage.

EEE – More in Massachusetts than any other state

While West Nile Virus may get the news headlines, as a more common mosquito-borne disease, it is critical to track and prevent EEE as it is so often deadly. According to state veterinarian Catherine Brown, Massachusetts has had 63% more human cases of EEE from 2004-2013 than the next closest state, which was Florida. Being the leader in the number of cases of a mosquito-borne disease is not a distinction we want to be famous for in Massachusetts.

Why Massachusetts?

EEE_grows_in_swamps_Central_MassWhat is it about Massachusetts that EEE can thrive and spread so easily? EEE is primarily found in swampy areas. Here in the Bay State there is no shortage of wetlands. The reason EEE is not commonly found in humans is because humans don’t generally spend a lot of time in swampy areas. If you are going to be out in an area that is swampy, make sure you wear long sleeves and pants to protect yourself.

Treating EEE

There are no specific antiviral treatments for the EEE virus nor are there any human vaccines, making it imperative that you proactively protect yourself from mosquitoes, especially in swampy habitats. Should you be exposed to EEE there are symptoms you need to watch for. According to the CDC there are two types of illness that can occur with EEE in humans, systemic or encephalitic (brain swelling).

(Aedes) Asian Tiger Mosquito Central MASystemic EEE illness usually has an abrupt onset and can include the following symptoms:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Malaise (depression)
  • Arthralgia (joint pain)
  • Myalgia (muscle pain)

Encephalitic EEE illness has an abrupt onset in infants, but manifests after a few days of systemic symptoms in older children and adults. Encephalitic EEE symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Drowsiness
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin)
  • Convulsions
  • Coma

One third of all human cases of EEE result in death, usually occurring 2-10 days after onset of symptoms. See your doctor immediately if you have been exposed and are showing any symptoms listed above. Patients who recover from EEE are usually left with long term disabling mental and physical effects that can include: brain dysfunction, personality disorders, seizures, paralysis, cranial nerve dysfunction or severe intellectual impairment.

With no specific treatment and no vaccine, limiting your exposure to mosquitoes is your best means of preventing EEE in humans. Remove all standing water from your yard, and if you have swampy wetlands you definitely need to seek the assistance of a mosquito control expert to try to manage the mosquitoes that are breeding there.

Dave Macchia mosquito protection author and tick protection author.

Dave Macchia is the owner of Mosquito Squad of Central Mass and the author of 2 blogs about mosquito control and tick control

Start by eliminating mosquitoes in your yard with help from Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts. Our traditional barrier spray eliminates mosquitoes and ticks on contact and continues to work for up to 21 days. By lowering the populations of mosquitoes in your yard by 85-90% we can help keep you and your family safe from itchy bites and mosquito-borne diseases this season. Contact us to sign up today by giving us a call at (877) 387-7823, dropping us an email at or visiting our website at We look forward to protecting your property this season and for many seasons to come.


For every spray treatment purchased, we donate $1.00 to Malaria No More.
Mosquito control is now a reality thanks to Mosquito Squad, the mosquito exterminator. Our affordable, effective and convenient mosquito control solutions offer something for everyone.

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