Health dept.: Human cases of EEE in RI are ‘extremely rare’


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As much as we try to avoid them, mosquito bites are part of spending the summer outdoors.

But what should we do when the symptoms go beyond just being itchy?

After mosquito samples tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Rhode Island and two human cases of EEE were confirmed in Massachusetts, health officials say it’s important to know the warning signs before becoming sick.

“For some people, it can be extremely serious,” Spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Health Joseph Wendelken said.

Symptoms of the EEE virus include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, restlessness, headaches and drowsiness. The symptoms usually develop four to 10 days after being bit by the infected mosquito.

When it comes to EEE, Wendelken said the most serious condition someone can contract is a brain infection and only one-third of people who contract the virus die from it.

Tips for preventing mosquito bites »

Thankfully, Wendelken said human infections are extremely rare in Rhode Island, with the last one occurring in 2010.

Due to the much lower risk of infection, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) does not plan on conducting aerial sprayings like neighboring Massachusetts.

Even though the odds of becoming infected with EEE are very low, Wendelken said anyone who is concerned should contact their primary care doctor.

Here are some recommendations on how to protect yourself from mosquito bites:

  • Dump out any standing water near your home.
  • Use screens on windows or air conditioning to keep them outside.
  • Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET.
  • Avoid being outside during peak biting hours – usually between dusk and dawn.
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and high socks if you’re outside during peak biting hours.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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