A fifth person in Michigan has died of the rare but dangerous mosquito-borne Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), state health officials announced this week.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced on Monday that a resident from Cass County died from the virus, The Detroit News reports. The person was not identified.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS, said the risk of contracting the virus will continue until there is a “sustained period of freezing temperatures” which will either kill off the insects or force them into hibernation.
EEE — a rare disease spread by infected mosquitoes — is known to cause brain inflammation. Survivors typically have mild to severe brain damage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One-third of those infected with EEE die.
Symptoms of a severe EEE infection “begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills and vomiting,” the CDC says.
There’s no specific treatment for the infection; antibiotics are not effective and no antiviral drugs have been discovered to date.
“Severe illnesses are treated by supportive therapy, which may include hospitalization, respiratory support, IV fluids, and prevention of other infections,” the federal health agency says. On average, five to 10 cases of EEE are reported each year in the U.S.
Earlier this week, Indiana health officials announced a resident there died of EEE. The case marked the first in the state since 1998 and only the fourth since 1964.