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This deadly mosquito-borne virus was just reported in the Midwest

Suspected cases of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) have been reported in the Midwest.

In this Sept. 8, 2010, file photo, a mosquito is held up for inspection at a research institute in Portland, Maine. Officials said that dry conditions across Maine and the region during the summer of 2020 have led to a dramatic drop in biting insects like mosquitoes and ticks.
In this Sept. 8, 2010, file photo, a mosquito is held up for inspection at a research institute in Portland, Maine.
Pat Wellenbach, Associated Press

The Indiana State Department of Health has called on residents to protect themselves after some reported cases of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) — a mosquito-born illness that’s proven to be fatal, WOOD-TV reports.

One Michigan woman told WOOD-TV that her husband had the illness, which would be the first human case in 2020.

  • “He went from being this healthy adult one week and in a 10-day span. … he couldn’t even walk unassisted. He was so weak. It really completely wiped him out. He’s lucky to be alive,” Tina Wescott said, according to WOOD-TV.
  • “It’s really bad. I didn’t think he was going to make it. I really didn’t think he was going to make it — that first night. I saw things I never want to see again. It was horrifying just struggling to breathe,” Wescott said, according to WOOD-TV.

The EEE virus — which is commonly found in horses — can cause severe illness in infected patients. The illness has a fatality rate of 33% or higher in humans.

  • “Those with systemic, nonencephalitic infections often recover in one to two weeks, but those with severe infections are often left with intellectual impairment, paralysis, seizures and personality dysfunction,” according to the National Environmental Health Association.
  • “Most patients with severe infections that do not die immediately after symptom onset die due to sequelae within several years. No vaccines currently exist for EEE and treatment is symptomatic. “