Deadly Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus detected in two parts of Mobile County – Mosquito Control Mobile AL
Mosquitoes in some parts of Mobile County are carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a disease that local health officials regard as a highly dangerous threat.
“EEE has a human mortality rate of between 50 to 75 percent,” said Mobile County Health Officer Dr. Bernard H. Eichold II. Eichold said that makes EEE a substantially more dangerous illness than the West Nile Virus, which he said has a human mortality rate between 3 and 15 percent. The Centers for Disease Control also describe EEE as “one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States,” but also report that it is “a rare illness in humans” with only a few cases reported each year.
The Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) uses “sentinel chickens” to monitor for such diseases. The chickens are kept in cages where they are exposed to mosquitoes, and their blood is routinely tested for mosquito-borne illnesses such as EEE and West Nile. (At present there is no chicken test for the Zika virus, another public health concern.)
According to information announced Thursday by the MCHD, EEE has been detected at three chicken sites: Two in the 36582 ZIP code and one in the 36613 ZIP code. 36582 covers the Theodore area south of Mobile, while 36613 lies to the northwest of the city along U.S. 45, including the Kushla and Eight Mile areas.
There is a horse vaccine for EEE, but there is not one for humans. Consequently, the best form of prevention is to avoid mosquito exposure by wearing repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors, and eliminating standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
“There are no health benefits to being bitten by a mosquito,” said Eichold.
Jerry Folse, the director of MCHD’s Vector Services, said the department will step up mosquito control efforts in the areas where EEE has been detected.
According to the MCHD, Mobile County saw one confirmed human case of EEE in 2015 and none in 2016. For full information on treatments and symptoms, visit www.cdc.gov.