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Deadly mosquito-borne virus found in four states

Here's how to protect yourself
Posted at 6:07 PM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-24 18:15:00-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A deadly mosquito-borne disease is believed to be responsible for seven deaths in four states this year, including parts of Pennsylvania. Just a few miles from the border of Chautauqua County.

"It can be very, very serious," said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Health Commissioner.

It's called Eastern Equine Encephalitis or Triple E. It's so serious that 30% of the people who get it die from the illness. It's an infection off the brain and all it takes is one mosquito bite.

The symptoms, according to Dr. Burstein, are:

  • headache
  • fever
  • nauseousness
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness

There's no vaccine or treatment for Triple-E.

It can also affect animals.

"It can affect some animals, horses, and in New York State they had a goat that got infected, [but] there is a vaccine for animals," said Dr. Burstein.

90% of infected horses die from the illness.

Latest data shows there are no cases in Western New York. Dr. Burstein warns if you're traveling to area's that have seen the virus to take some precautions.

Here is the CDC's map of affected areas

"It’s the basic tenants of keeping yourself away from mosquito bites, its cooler so wear long pants. Any type of skin exposed make sure it's covered with EPA approved skin repellent," said Dr. Burstein.

There are also ways to keep horses safe.

"Don't go to any big shows or racetracks. As long as you're staying local, and around the horses you're used to, you're not gonna be at a higher risk," said Brittany Schlossin, who's worked with horses for 20 years.

The New York State Department of Health tests pools of mosquitos and has not yet found EEE in Erie County.