Florida Woman Dies, Parks Close due to Mosquito Virus

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A Florida woman has died and a Massachusetts park is limiting hours due to a mosquito-transmitted virus called Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE. The CDC calls the virus the most severe mosquito-transmitted disease in the United States.

In Lakeville MA, the Park Commission has ordered all public parks – there are five - to be closed at dusk until further notice after finding a mosquito that tested positive for EEE.

In Florida, health officials in Hillsborough County confirmed the death of woman in the northern part of the county – the first in the state of Florida since 2008. She died on July 1st, and was believed to have other health issues as well. Four horses in the county have also tested positive for the disease, which indicates to health officials that the likelihood of human infection will increases as well.

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Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus is a rare illness in humans, with only a few cases reported each year in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most cases occur in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states.

Most persons with the illness have no symptoms. Severe cases involving encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma.

There is no specific treatment for EEE; care is based on symptoms.

Reducing exposure to mosquitoes is the best defense against infection with EEE and other mosquito-borne viruses, such as West Nile. The CDC recommends:

• Stay inside at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active
• Use repellent: When outdoors, use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus on exposed skin and/or clothing. The repellent/insecticide permethrin can be used on clothing to protect through several washes. Always follow the directions on the package.
• Wear protective clothing: Wear long sleeves and pants when weather permits.
• Install and repair screens: Have secure, intact screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
• Keep mosquitoes from laying eggs near you: Mosquitoes can lay eggs even in small amounts of standing water. Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels, and tires. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Empty children's wading pools and store on their side after use.

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