New Hope for Rare but Deadly Mosquito-Borne EEE

Jul 9, 2013

A Rhode Island Hospital neurologist says there’s evidence that early, aggressive treatment can help the unlucky few who catch Eastern Equine Encephalitis each year in the United States. Neurointensivist (a neurologist with additional training in intensive neurological conditions) Dr. Linda Wendell has published an account of the hospital’s successful treatment of a young man with EEE.    

The EEE virus, extracted from the Culiseta melanura mosquito.
Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

He’s doing remarkably well. He only has mild memory difficulties," said Wendell.  "And he’s essentially been able to return to his everyday activities, including signing up for college courses.”

The mosquito-borne disease causes brain swelling, seizures, and can be fatal up to 50 percent of the time. Only 5 to 10 people contract it each year, but of those who do, serious brain damage is often the result.

So far, Rhode Island officials have not detected triple E in mosquitoes here. But testing will continue throughout the season.