EEE death reported in Chippewa County
Health officials encourage everyone to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Eastern equine encephalitis has led to the death of a Wisconsin woman.
The state Department of Health Services and the Chippewa County Health Department announced Friday, Sept. 4 that laboratory testing confirmed a case of the virus infection in a woman in her 60s who had been living in Chippewa County. This is the second human case of EEE in state so far this year, and the first resulting in a death.
“We are very sad to report that one of our fellow Wisconsinites has contracted EEE and has passed away. This is the second confirmed case of EEE in our state this year, and the seriousness of this infection cannot be overstated,” said Interim State Health Officer Stephanie Smiley. “Since mosquitoes continue to be active in Wisconsin, we are urging people to continue to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
The virus is transmitted to animals and humans via mosquitoes. Mosquitoes acquire the EEE virus by feeding on infected birds. The virus is not spread person-to-person or directly between animals and humans.
Although human cases are rare, they are potentially fatal. Symptoms begin anywhere from three to 10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Inflammation and swelling of the brain, called encephalitis, is the most dangerous and serious complication.
In addition to the human cases, there have been nine cases of EEE reported in horses in northwest Wisconsin this year, including four in Chippewa County. The number of cases represent unusually high levels of virus activity in the state, according to health officials.
As long as mosquitoes are active, the risk of EEE and other illnesses spread by mosquitoes can continue through much of the fall.