Published on October 10, 2019

Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Connecticut

By Asha Shah, MD, MS

Do I Have Eastern Equine Encephalitis?

If you think you or someone you know may have EEE, please talk to your primary care doctor.

Of all the advisories we see on I95, who would have expected the traffic safety department reminding us to be cautious from dusk to dawn, not about accidents or tie-ups, but about a virus? It’s because of the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus, also known as EEE, Triple E or the “sleeping sickness.” What is this disease, and should we be concerned? Let’s take a further look.

What is Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)?

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a serious illness caused by bites from mosquitoes that are active during dusk to dawn. EEE is an extremely rare virus that transmits to both horses and people through an infected mosquito. The word “encephalitis” means inflammation of the brain tissue as a result of becoming infected with the virus.

What are the telltale symptoms of EEE?

It usually takes between 4 and 10 days for symptoms of Eastern Equine Encephalitis to develop. These include:

  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Fatigue
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and vomiting

Depending on the part of the brain that becomes infected with the encephalitis virus, patients may also experience:

  • Seizures
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Coma

Mosquito on SkinWhat should we know about cases of EEE in Connecticut? Have there been any cases of EEE in Stamford?

So far, there have been four cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Connecticut, but no confirmed cases in Stamford. Usually, there are about six cases of EEE on average in the entire U.S.; this is the first year with so many cases in CT alone.

What precautions should the public take to protect against EEE?

While we wait for the colder weather to come in and wipe out the mosquito population, here’s how we can protect ourselves against Eastern Equine Encephalitis:

  • If you or your children will be outside from dusk to dawn, wear long sleeves, long pants, bug spray or DEET.
  • Dump any standing water in birdbaths or buckets—this tends to be breeding ground for mosquitos.

What are the chances of catching EEE?

You’re unlikely to catch Eastern Equine Encephalitis. With the colder weather on its way, we can say goodbye to those pesky mosquitos. The absence of mosquitos is the ultimate protection.