The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed to Indiana health officials that a Hoosier in Elkhart County contracted eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, a rare virus transmitted by mosquitoes. The patient died as a result of the infection.
This is the first human case in Indiana since 1998 and only the fourth reported since 1964. The CDC says approximately 5 to 10 human cases of EEE are reported nationwide each year, typically from late spring through early fall. Nearly one-third of human cases are fatal.
EEE has been found in more than a dozen horses and one mosquito sample in northern Indiana this year. Although mosquito activity decreases with cooler temperatures, the risk of mosquito-borne diseases will not be eliminated until the first hard freeze occurs. State health officials urge Hoosiers to continue to take steps to prevent mosquito bites until then.
Symptoms of EEE virus disease include chills, fever, body aches and joint pain. Some people develop a more severe form of the disease that affects the nervous system and causes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). People who are younger than 15 years and older than 50 years are at the greatest risk of severe disease if infected with EEE virus.
People who think they may have EEE virus disease should see a healthcare provider.