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Diseases & Topics

Eastern Equine Encephalitis

People and equine animals, such as horses, can get Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEE) by being bitten by an infected mosquito. Only a few cases of people infected by EEE are reported in the United States each year. Most cases occur in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states. North Carolina averages about one case of EEE per year. The disease is more common in the eastern part of the state than in other geographic regions.

Most persons infected with EEE have no apparent symptoms. Severe cases of EEE (involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma, which may result in death or in severe brain damage. About one in three cases is fatal, with young children and the elderly most at risk.

The best defense against EEE is to avoid mosquito bites: use insect repellent, wear protective clothing, and stay indoors while mosquitoes are most active. If you think you or a family member may have EEE, it is important to talk with your healthcare provider.

In North Carolina

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