Mosquitoes: the Real Vampires of the Northeast
For those of you who live in New England, or other Northeast regions where mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses have become increasingly common, it’s work mentioning that this season is shaping up to be another dangerous one.
The increase in not only mosquitoes but also the number of these pests carrying potentially fatal diseases has been slowly on the rise over the past 5 years. Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEE), one of the most common and serious mosquitoes found in the North East, has also been more frequently cited. Last year alone, there were 7 cases of EEE in Mass—3 of whom died.
EEE, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control, is a mosquito-transmitted virus that can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). It is important to note that there are 2 types of illness, systemic and encephalitic. Systemic is the less chronic of the two, causing symptoms such as fever, chills, joint pain and malaise. This less serious infection has a duration period of 1-2 weeks, and is generally recoverable. Encephalitic infection is much more serious. This acute form of the virus has and can cause death—mostly in the elderly or those with chronic health issues. 
During the particular form of EEE, the infected party’s brain swells, and can cause a rash of uncomfortable and dangerous symptoms. Fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, skin discoloration, coma and even death are all common in someone who has contracted EEE.
But how do you avoid mosquitoes and protect yourself from EEE?
- In areas where mosquitoes are present, or the disease has been reported avoid outdoor activities at or after dusk
- Wear protective clothing that covers your arms and legs
- Use bug spray or repellant on exposed skin—particularly ones with DEET picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus when outside
- Remove standing water from around your house. Mosquitoes live and breed in pools of stagnant water (buckets, barrels, old unused tires, bird baths, etc.)
- Take a look around your house and make sure all windows have screens—repair any holes or rips in existing screens. Full screens in open windows and doors will keep the pests out of your house, and you safe
Hopefully, these tips and a little awareness will keep you and your family safe from EEE, and all mosquito-borne illnesses. For those of you where these diseases or mosquitoes are not prevalent, you have less to worry about. However—just because you don’t have EEE near you, doesn’t mean you should do everything you can to protect yourself from bug bites!