Elkhart resident dies from EEE virus, first Indiana case in 20 years

It's the first case of eastern equine encephalitis reported in Indiana since 1998.

Posted: Oct 13, 2019 9:48 AM
Updated: Oct 13, 2019 6:07 PM

INDIANAPOLIS  (WFFT) — An Elkhart County resident has died after contracting a rare virus transmitted by mosquitoes.

The CDC says it's the first human case of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) reported in Indiana since 1998 and only the fourth reported since 1964. 

Approximately five to 10 human cases are reported nationwide each year, typically late spring through early fall, and nearly one-third of human cases are fatal, according to the CDC. 

It says EEE has been found in more than a dozen horses and one mosquito sample in northern Indiana this year. 

Symptoms include chills, fever, body aches and joint pain.

Some people develop a more severe form of the disease that affects the nervous system and causes inflammation of the brain.

Mosquito activity decreases with cooler temperatures but the CDC says the risk of mosquito-borne diseases isn't eliminated until the first hard freeze. 

Here are steps you can take to prevent mosquito bites: 

• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn and early morning)
• Use an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on clothes and exposed skin
• Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are especially active, such as wooded areas
• Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home
Hoosiers also are encouraged to eliminate mosquito breeding sites by doing the following:
• Discard old tires, tin/aluminum cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water
• Repair failed septic systems
• Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors
• Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed
• Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains
• Frequently replace the water in pet bowls
• Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically
• Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with predatory fish

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