Health scare of the week
Mosquito-borne killer virus
Florida’s health department is warning of a surge in a mosquito-borne virus that can cause fatal brain swelling, reports CNN.com. State officials announced last week that the virus, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), had been detected in several “sentinel chickens”—birds that are regularly tested for West Nile virus and EEE. That means “the risk of transmission to humans has increased,”officials said. The virus was also found last month in mosquitoes in New York state and Massachusetts. Only about seven U.S. residents a year are diagnosed with EEE virus, but some 30 percent of cases are fatal. Those who survive are often left with permanent brain damage. Symptoms—which can include headache, fever, chills, and vomiting, or seizures and coma in more extreme cases—typically develop four to 10 days after a person has been bitten by an infected mosquito. There’s no cure for the virus, so officials advise people to reduce their risk of being bitten by draining standing water around their homes, applying insect repellant, and using door and window screens.