August 07, 2019
A rare mosquito-borne illness that carries a higher fatality risk than West Nile Virus is raising public health concerns after being detected in Delaware.
The Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or Triple E, virus was discovered in four sentinel chickens — strategically placed fowl used by states to detect the presence of mosquito-borne viruses in the area, Delaware Online reports.
The virus was detected in all three counties of the state: New Castle, Kent and Sussex.
Triple E infections are spread by mosquito bites and lead to brain infections that 30 percent of the time result in fatalities or neurological problems in survivors, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Symptoms, including the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills and vomiting, typically develop in four to 10 days following the bite, the CDC notes. Additionally, there is no specific treatment for the virus, as antibiotics and anti-viral drugs prove generally ineffective.
Among those at highest risk for the infection are residents of Atlantic and Gulf coast states, and people who live in or visit woodland areas, and work outside or participate in outdoor activities, per the CDC.
Delaware health officials are encouraging residents, especially in the affected counties, to use bug repellent with DEET and to protect skin with long-sleeved clothing whenever outside. Residents should also avoid known mosquito-heavy areas in addition to remaining inside at prime mosquito times like dusk and dawn.
The state plans to spray and fog areas for mosquitoes as needed. Residents can also report “intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes” to state officials by calling 302-836-2555 or 302-422-1512.