This is the first case of the disease in Rhode Island since 2010

By Claudia Harmata
September 10, 2019 02:11 PM
LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty

A third person has died in the United States this year after contracting the rare mosquito-borne illness, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).

On Monday, the Rhode Island Department of Health released a statement saying that on August 30th an individual in their 50’s from West Warwick (Eastern Rhode Island) was diagnosed with EEE and in critical condition. Just nine days later, on Sept. 8, the individual had died from the disease.

It was the state’s first human case of EEE since 2010 and their first fatal case of EEE since 2007, the agency said.

Just days earlier, Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services in Michigan announced on Friday that someone in the state had died from EEE, according to CNN. And in late August, Laurie Sylvia of Massachusetts was the first to die from the disease this year, however, she was the fourth person in the state to contract the disease in August.

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EEE is extremely rare, with an average of just seven cases nationwide each year — primarily in Massachusetts, Florida, New York and North Carolina. However, of the reported cases, 30 percent result in death, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC says that people over 50 and under 15 years old are more susceptible to the illness, which starts to show symptoms four to ten days after infection.

Those infected will develop chills, fever, lethargy and joint pain. In cases where the disease enters the central nervous system, one-third of patients die from EEE, and those who survive are likely to be mentally and physically disabled. There is no vaccine for the disease.

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Rhode Island is conducting aerial mosquito treatments across four areas of the state that officials have determined are at a critical risk.

The state, however, urges its residents to take their own preventative measures as well. They recommend using EPA-approved bug spray with DEET, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, and rescheduling outdoor events that take place during the peak mosquito-biting hours in the early morning or evening.

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