According to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of mosquito-borne disease cases has been increasing steadily during the past decade. In fact, the rate of mosquito-borne disease cases has continued to increase in the US each year since the Zika virus outbreaks occurred in the Americas during 2015 and 2016. While the spread of Zika-carrying mosquitoes into populated regions of the southern US seems to have ceased for the time being, other rare mosquito-borne diseases are inexplicably becoming more common in certain regions of the US. Some of these increasingly common mosquito-borne diseases include St. Louis encephalitis and eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and non-native mosquitoes infected with the west Nile virus are establishing invasive and permanent habitats in areas where the pests had not existed before. The abundance of EEE-infected mosquitoes in the northeast has put multiple states in the region on high alert. Residents of numerous counties in Massachusetts are being warned about the EEE threat posed by biting mosquitoes, and four EEE cases have been reported in the state already this year. Sadly, one Bedford resident, Laurie Sylvia, recently became the first Massachusetts resident to die from contracting EEE this year.
Older individuals, like Sylvia, who was 59 at the time of her passing, are at risk of developing a potentially fatal case of meningitis after contracting EEE from the bite of an infected mosquito. A significant minority of those who contact EEE eventually die from the disease. Last week, a horse in Methuen died as a result of contracting EEE, which prompted local authorities to open their emergency operations center, as well as prohibit residents from indulging in outdoor get-togethers past 7 PM, and this curfew applies to residents that are present on their own yards. Normally, EEE-carrying mosquitoes only pose a risk to people living in the southeast US, and the disease only infects between five to ten people per year in the country, but four cases have already been reported this year in Massachusetts alone. There currently does not exist any specific form of treatment to address EEE infection, and all antibiotics have proven ineffective at combating the disease’s progression.
Are you concerned about the abundance of EEE-infected mosquitoes currently inhabiting Massachusetts?