Researchers warn about increase in mosquitoes that can carry E.E.E.

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 5:12 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) -New research in Elkhart County found zero cases of the E.E.E. virus in mosquitoes they captured through August 3rd, but there is an increase in the type of mosquito that carries the virus.

16 News Now tells us why health officials are keeping a close eye on these trends.

16 News Now personally spoke to a number of people who had loved ones fall ill or even pass away from E.E.E. last fall.

Even though the chances of contracting the virus are typically low, the chances of recovery are not.

E.E.E. case numbers in humans were uncommonly high in 2019 with five in Michiana. The case in Elkhart was the first in the Hoosier state in more than 20 years.

There were two cases in both Berrien County and Cass County (Michigan).

Michigan's E.E.E. cases in 2019 more than double the total cases in the whole decade prior.

"We're seeing an increase in the number of mosquitoes that are capable of carrying E.E.E., and since we had an outbreak last year, that is a concern because we know the virus is around the area at the moment," said Purdue Extension Elkhart County Educator Jeff Burbrink.

Burbrink says the best way to avoid E.E.E. is to avoid getting bit by mosquitoes.

That means you should wear long sleeves and pants when mosquitoes are most active, typically at dusk.

You should also wear insect repellent if you are in an area with a lot of mosquitoes.

If you can, it's best to avoid these areas all together.

Mosquitoes frequently appear near wooded wetlands and open spaces with cat-tails.

"Those mosquitoes will feed on those birds and then those birds and mosquitoes will fly out into the open areas. The birds in particular fly into areas that are cat-tail marshes. Not like a pond, but places where there's cat-tails and they will feed on mammals," Burbrink said.

Burbrink says you should have your animal tested if you suspect they passed away from E.E.E. to help researchers map where there are outbreaks.

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