Earlier this year, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, EEE, killed three people in Connecticut and nine more between Massachusetts, Michigan, and Rhode Island. As a result of this threat, Groton Public Schools placed a temporary ban on outdoor school-related events past 6pm, and sent home recommendations that students wear long pants and sleeves and avoid going outside around sunrise and sunset. In order to find out more about EEE and its potential impact, the Falcon Press reached out to Kristine Lindell and Maggie Silver, both of the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
In an interview with the Falcon Press, Maggie Silver, a Health Communications Specialist from the CDC stated “The CDC reports out the number of confirmed cases we get from the states every week, and so as of September 17th this Tuesday.. the CDC has 14 confirmed cases, of eight from Massachusetts, three from Michigan, and one each from New Jersey, Rhode Island, and North Carolina.” This year the EEE virus has been more active than in previous years, but Ms. Silver clarified that we are not seeing an outbreak. From 2009 to 2018 there had only been one case of EEE in Connecticut, which was in 2013 and ended in a fatality.
EEE stands for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Most people die because of the “encephalitis” part, which is a swelling of the brain. The virus remains in your system for 4-10 days before you can start exhibiting symptoms. Some symptoms of EEE include fever, headache, anorexia, vomiting, cyanosis, convulsions, coma, irritability, and restlessness. People who have survived the virus have experienced long term symptoms such as intellectual impairment, personality disorders, seizures, or paralysis.
According to Maggie Silver, “the best way to protect yourself is to prevent mosquito bites.” The best way to prevent mosquito bites is “by wearing EPA approved insect repellent and covering up with long sleeves and long pants when you’re outside”. There is no vaccine for the EEE virus, so the only way to not get the virus is to stay covered and listen to your local CDC announcements for recommendations regarding prevention. Once EEE has entered your bloodstream, you can be affected forever. It is unclear if EEE will be back this upcoming fall, but this time the district will be better informed and prepared to face this threat again.