Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is of concern throughout the coastal regions of the eastern United States. The EEE virus is maintained in enzootic bird-mosquito cycles centered around hardwood, freshwater swamps. Passerine birds in and around these swamps serve as reservoirs for the virus. Mosquitoes, principally Culiseta melanura, feed on these infected birds; thereby amplifying the amount of virus circulating in the bird population. During some years the risk of acquiring EEE is elevated when the number of infected birds dramatically increases, allowing other less host-specific mosquito species the opportunity to become infected. These mosquitoes species (for example, Aedes sollicitans and Coquilletidia perturbans) are referred to as bridge vectors due to their ability to bridge the gap between birds and mammals and carry the virus out of the bird-mosquito cycle and introduce it to mammals. EEE is extremely fatal to horses and non native birds, such as emus or pheasants. When humans are infected with the virus, it causes a severe and frequently fatal illness. Generally, symptoms can include a sudden onset of high fever, vomiting, convulsions, drowsiness, and coma. Fortunately, there are only 5 - 10 human cases of EEE reported throughout the United States each year.
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