While there's only been an average of seven cases of the EEE virus reported in United States residents each year, the disease is known to be fatal about 30 percent of the the time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Several sentinel chickens in the same flock have tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) infection", the Orange County Department of Health stated in an advisory. While the chickens show the presence of the viruses, they don't develop the symptoms associated with them. Among animals, horses are the most vulnerable to EEE virus infection. However, about one-third of people who contract it die, and many survivors have long-term neurological problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We keep advising people to be on the lookout for standing water where they work, at home, wherever", Kretschmer says, "because that's where the female mosquito lays her eggs".
Among those who recovered, many are struggling with disabling and progressive mental and physical sequelae, which can range from minimal brain dysfunction to severe intellectual impairment, personality disorders, seizures, paralysis, and cranial nerve dysfunction.
Preventing the disease with insecticide has proven hard, as many mosquito populations are in protected areas that can not be treated with the repellent.
The Florida Department of Health reminds residents and visitors to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and to take basic precautions to help limit exposure.
Officials say the best way to protect yourself from mosquitos and mosquito-borne illnesses is to wear long sleeves and trousers, use insect repellent, and get rid of any standing water at your house. Antibodies are proteins generated by the immune system for resisting foreign substances including viruses and bacteria. The disease can infect the brain causing swelling.
There is no known medical treatment or cure for the disease.
In spite of the seriousness of the West Nile virus and its continuing growth throughout Arizona, the epizoologist stresses one aspect in its control is paramount: preventing the disease in the first place. For instance, the signs of EEE include the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting.