National Pest Management Association Emphasizes Mosquito Protection Amid Growing Concerns Over Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)
With 20 cases of mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) reported in the United States so far this year, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is urging the public to take necessary safety precautions against these potentially dangerous insects. As vectors of disease, mosquitoes can spread viruses such as EEE by feeding on infected animals and humans. In 2019, human cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been recorded in Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, while animal infections have been reported in a number of additional states.
“Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a relatively rare mosquito-borne illness, but can be life-threatening for those who contract it,” said Dr. Jorge Parada, medical advisor for NPMA. “EEE can result in one of two types of illness, systemic or encephalitic, with encephalitic being the deadlier of the two.”
According to Parada, once bitten by an infected mosquito, those who contract the virus may start to experience flu-like symptoms such as chills, fever and joint pain, which usually last for one to two weeks. Most people make a full recovery, but about four to five percent of those infected develop the encephalitic form of EEE which affects the brain and causes symptoms including vomiting and convulsions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 30 percent of people with EEE die as a result of the infection and many survivors have ongoing neurologic problems. “Unfortunately, many who recover from the illness are left with disabling mental disorders and brain disfunction. If you suspect you have EEE, you should seek out treatment from a physician as soon as possible,” added Parada.
With mosquitoes remaining active well into late fall, the National Pest Management Association is urging people to take extra precautions with these protection measures:
- Properly apply insect repellent containing at least 20 percent DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus; follow label instructions closely and reapply as needed
- Wear closed-toe shoes, long pants and long sleeve shirts when spending time outdoors to limit skin exposure
- Avoid wearing dark colors, floral prints and sweet-smelling perfumes and colognes while outside
- If you experience an adverse reaction after being bitten by a mosquito or develop flu-like symptoms, see your health care provider immediately
In addition to personal protection, stifling mosquito breeding activity is equally as important. Mosquitoes thrive in warm, wet areas and only need as little as half an inch of standing water to breed, turning innocent items like wheelbarrows and bird baths into potential breeding grounds that could develop thousands of mosquitoes. To help demonstrate this to the American public, the NPMA recently released its Mosquito Multiplier project showing just how quickly mosquitoes can multiply in a conducive backyard setting.
“To reduce the chances of mosquitoes breeding in your yard, conduct a property survey at least once a week and eliminate all areas of standing water,” said Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association.