Third EEE fatality reported in Florida

The third recorded fatality in southern Florida this year attributed to Eastern Equine Encephalitis has many area residents wondering what they can do to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Eastern Equine Enecephalitis a mosquito-borne virus that is usually fairly rare in the United States, reports. The virus, which can lead to inflammation of the brain, is not transmitted from person to person.

Florida state medical officials report that the people who are at highest risk of getting this infection are those who live in or visit woodland habitats and people who work outside.

Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said that there are now 60 reported cases of EEE in horses in several dozen counties in Florida this year, including southern counties such as Miami-Dade, Okeechobee and Collier.

State health officials say the first step people can take to protect themselves is to avoid being outside, especially at dawn and at dusk when mosquitoes tend to be most active, reports. If people have to be outside during this time, officials warn, they should wear long sleeves and pants, or at least insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Since mosquitoes tend to breed near places where shallow water collects, health officials also recommend trying to eliminate as many potential breeding spots as possible.

EEE symptoms usually start from a few days to more than a week after getting bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms include a sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills and vomiting. The disease can progress to disorientation, seizures and coma and is fatal in approximately 30 percent of the cases.