CT sees first fatal EEE case since 2013
Amid news that the first Connecticut resident diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis this year has died, officials also announced that a second human case has surfaced and that another state resident has tested positive for West Nile virus.
The person with EEE who died earlier this week — identified only as an adult from East Lyme — was hospitalized with encephalitis in late August. This death marked the state’s first fatal human EEE case since 2013.
The second person diagnosed with EEE is also an adult from East Lyme, DPH said. The patient became sick during the second week of September and has been hospitalized ever since. Lab tests — which were completed Friday at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Colorado — confirmed the presence of antibodies for the virus that causes EEE.
“The identification of two Connecticut residents with EEE, one of whom has passed away, emphasizes the seriousness of this infection,” cautioned DPH Commissioner Renée Coleman Mitchell. “Using insect repellent, covering bare skin and avoiding being outdoors from dusk to dawn are effective ways to help keep you from being bitten by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes continue to be active until the first heavy frost.”
Over on the western part of the state, an adult in Danbury has tested positive for West Nile virus infection. This is the first human case of West Nile reported in Connecticut this season. The patient fell ill during the third week of August and is recovering, DPH said. Tests by the CDC lab in Colorado confirmed the West Nile diagnosis.
West Nile has been detected in Connecticut every year since 1999. The number of infected mosquitoes this season have been lower than the usual average. Infected mosquitoes are most often found in urban and suburban areas with dense human populations.
About 80 percent of those infected never develop symptoms. Roughly 20 percent of infected humans develop a fever and some other symptoms. About one out of 150 infected people develop a serious — sometimes fatal — illness. In 2018, there were 23 human cases of West Nile virus in Connecticut, including one fatality.
But when it comes to EEE, states across the northeastern part of the United States are seeing an active season with mosquitoes and humans being found with the infection. There have been 10 human cases of EEE in Massachusetts, including two fatalities. In Rhode Island, there have been three human cases recorded and one fatality.
Although EEE-infected mosquitoes continue to be detected in the southeastern corner of Connecticut, the numbers have declined.
DPH said it takes four to 10 days after the bite from an infected mosquito for a person to develop symptoms of EEE. Severe cases of the infection lead to an inflammation of the brain. About one-third of patients who develop EEE die from it. There is no specific treatment for EEE.
For information on what to do to prevent getting mosquitoes bites and to view the latest mosquito test results and human infections, visit portal.ct.gov/mosquito.