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Protect Yourself From EEE

By September 11, 2019 September 26th, 2019 Fenway Health Newsroom

If you live in New England, you may have seen news reports about an outbreak of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). EEE transmission is most common in August and September and occurs through a cycle involving mosquito to avian to mosquito to human contact. While many people infected with EEE show no harmful symptoms, for some it can cause serious or life-threatening complications.

Knowing how to spot EEE is critical. The incubation period for EEE is 4-10 days. Common symptoms are high fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms include fatigue, joint pain, arthralgia, and muscle pain. The illness typically lasts 1-2 weeks.

Of those infected, 2% will get encephalitis symptoms, which are very serious and caused by swelling of the brain. Symptoms include fever, headache, irritability, restlessness, drowsiness, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, skin deterioration, convulsions, and can lead to a coma. If you experience any of these symptoms and think you may have been exposed to EEE, please go to your nearest ER immediately.

While there is unfortunately no treatment currently available for EEE, there are ways to minimize your risk of exposure:

  • Schedule outdoor events to avoid the hours between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • When you are outdoors, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and socks. This may be difficult to do when the weather is hot, but it will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
  • Use a repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to the instructions given on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin.
  • Keep mosquitoes out of your house by repairing any holes in your screens and making sure they are tightly attached to all your doors and windows.
  • Remove areas of standing water around your home. Here are some suggestions:
    – Look around outside your house for containers and other things that might collect water and turn them over, regularly empty them, or dispose of them.
    – Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors so that water can drain out.
    – Clean clogged roof gutters; remove leaves and debris that may prevent drainage of rainwater.
    – Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
    – Change the water in birdbaths every few days; aerate ornamental ponds or stock them with fish.
    – Keep swimming pools clean and properly chlorinated; remove standing water from pool covers.
    – Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property

Following these steps will help you protect yourself and your loved ones from EEE. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns, or to schedule a medical appointment, by calling 617.267.0900.

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