When the sultry seasons set in and the temperature and humidity rise, the air gets abuzz with mosquitoes. Tiny little parasitic pests, mosquitoes are an important part of the ecosystem, but at the same time, they are also carriers of numerous illnesses, such as dengue, malaria, and even the Zika Virus. However, over the past year, a new deadly disease has been spreading, Triple E. It is a rare disease that isn’t dispersed like the other diseases spread by mosquitoes. Here’s everything you need to know about this illness and how you can avoid it.
What is Triple E
Triple E is the disease known as Eastern equine encephalitis. It is a rare viral illness that originates from birds residing around or directly within freshwater swamps. The virus is then transmitted to a specific type of mosquito indigenous to swampy areas, Culiseta melanura (also known as Coquillett).
Coquillett usually have no taste for human blood, but do tend to bite other birds and animals. Infected mosquitoes have a preference for horses, but on rare occasions, these mosquitoes have been known to bite people, thereby transmitting the lethal illness.
How Has Triple E Affected People
In general, on a yearly basis, there are at most 7 confirmed cases of this illness across the United States. As of August, 2019, however, with still many months left to go, there have already been seven cases reported. This sudden rise in the spread of this rare illness has raised quite a few red flags with experts everywhere.
In Massachusetts and Michigan, there have been three and four cases of the infection reported respectively in less than a year. One of the cases reported in Massachusetts resulted in a fatality, further adding to the concern. In Florida, there have been incidents of the disease reported in horses, though the people of the sunshine state haven't been affected.
Because of the specific circumstances under which this disease is spread, it has been stated by Dr. William Schaffner, an expert in infectious diseases at Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University, the chances of a person being affected by this illness are approximately the same as an individual’s chances of winning the Powerball Lottery.
However, once infected, the chances of fatality are a whopping 30%, and the illness acts fast. The virus first attacks the central nervous system and makes its way to the bloodstream. From there, it heads straight to the brain and begins to eat away at brain cells and continues to multiply in number. Those who survive often end up suffering from long term cognitive impairment and muscle spasms.
By Michael A. Silverman, John Misasi, Sandra Smole, Henry A. Feldman, Adam B. Cohen, Sandro Santagata, Michael McManus, and Asim A. Ahmed - Emerging Infectious Diseases online edition, Wikimedia Commons)
Currently, there is no cure for this illness, and it is unlikely that a vaccine will be created any time soon. But that doesn’t mean you are completely unprotected. Given the nature of this illness and how it is spread and contracted, there are certain precautions you can take to significantly reduce your chances of encountering Triple E.
Things to Keep In Mind
1. Don’t Leave a Mess
Whether in your yard, your front porch or your driveway or garage, its important to consistently clean any items that may be lying outside, or may gather water than can stagnate. Clean any birdbaths or buckets regularly. Even items like plastic toys and old tires can collect water.
2. Know Where You Are
This disease is common specifically to swampy areas, freshwater swamps to be precise, and surrounding areas that tend to have brackish waters. If you live near a similar area, it’s important to take precautions like maintaining plants that repel mosquitoes. You can also try some of these mosquito-repelling home remedies.
3. Watch out for Horses
The mosquitoes that carry Triple E are attracted to horses. If you stay nearby or have a profession that involves horses, make sure to stay extra vigilant. There are even specified foods you can avoid during the more humid seasons that reduce your likelihood of being a mosquito magnet.
4. Cover up!
A major deterrent for getting bitten by mosquitoes is simply covering up and adding some bug spray or mosquito repellent to the mix. Most mosquitoes come out during dusk and dawn, so if you leave your home at anytime during these hours, wear thicker full-sleeved shirts and full pants and wear a layer of bug spray on the areas that aren't covered up by clothing.