EEE: Eastern Equine Encephalitis

By Ashley Watson

eee-2You’ve probably noticed that Eastern Equine Encephalitis, more commonly known as “Triple E,” has been in the news a lot recently. This mosquito-born disease can lead to inflammation of the brain and can be deadly once it’s transmitted to animals and humans. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports, “EEE is one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States with approximately 33% mortality and significant brain damage in most survivors.”

The CDC also reports that this disease is more prevalent in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states where mosquitoes are prominent. However, there have been severe cases reported further west in states with a high mosquito population, such as North Dakota.  It caused two deaths in Vermont last year, and this week, a horse in southern Vermont was euthanized because it was displaying symptoms of EEEV. Because there’s no vaccine or treatment for this virus, this week’s post will go over the symptoms to watch for and more importantly, how to prevent Triple E.

Symptoms of EEE

eee-2While anyone can contract this disease, which can show no sign of illness in many people, people or pets with compromised immune systems are particularly susceptible. Symptoms include severe headache, fever, chills, and vomiting, which typically begin around 4 to 7 days after the bite, according to the CDC. A spinal fluid test is the only way to diagnose the virus. If you or one of your pets shows any of these signs, it is important to go to the doctor or see your vet immediately.

Prevention and Treatment

Preventing Triple E is extremely important since there is not a vaccine for this virus. The CDC advises that people reduce exposure to mosquitoes, which can be very tricky in the summer, especially for pets. Here in Vermont, some elementary schools have moved all activities indoors, and state officials are recommending that people stay indoors as much as possible until the first hard frost. But dogs and outdoor cats still need to go outside at least a few times a day.

Luckily, the cold weather should kill the mosquitoes very soon for many northern states; however, if you live in a part of the country in which the weather will be warmer throughout much of the fall, it’s best to use other defenses. Here are some of the prevention tips posted by the CDC:

  • eee-4Use insect repellant (for pets, check with your vet)
  • Wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and pants
  • Install and repair screens on windows and doors
  • Discourage mosquitoes from populating the areas around your home

For more information about how to protect pets against mosquitoes, see our post from last month on this topic.

Most importantly, speak to your veterinarian about ways to keep mosquitoes at bay. Your vet will be able to recommend a product for your pet, such as Vetri-Repel Spray, which is designed for dogs and cats. This product uses a combination of Brazilian oils that have been used for centuries by the indigenous people of the Amazon forest to keep pests away. One easy way to use the spray is to apply it to collars that are able to soak up the oils. We also carry Vetri-Repel in a smaller size spray bottle and convenient wipes for pets on the go.

What do you do to protect you and your pets from mosquitoes? Share your comments on Facebook.