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Dead from the bite of a mosquito. It is alarm in the US for the fourth case of death due to a rare but dangerous mosquito-borne virus called EEE, an Eastern equine encephalitis virus or a “sleep sickness”.

The latest victim is Laurie Sylvia, who was admitted to Tufts Medical Center in Boston. A 59-year-old real estate agent from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, a mother of three. Hers is the fourth diagnosis of EEE in the US state. The woman started feeling sick on Monday last week and died on Saturday. The husband gave the news.

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The disease is rare but potentially fatal. 5 to 10 human cases are reported each year, but about 30% of all infections are fatal, according to data from the US CDCs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). It is transmitted by common mosquitoes. It is an endemic virus in the US states bordering the east coast. Contracting the disease from the virus can lead to cerebral edema (encephalitis) preceded by flu-like symptoms, including high fever, chills and nausea. Severe cases can cause convulsions or coma with brain damage or death. There is no treatment for EEE, but doctors can offer supportive therapy to help patients breathe, take fluids and nourishment and prevent infections.

Even a 14-year-old girl is struggling in the hospital between life and death in Michigan. It is the last case in order of time. The virus was found this year in 330 samples of mosquitoes in Massachusetts. The alarm is also widespread in New Jersey and on animals in Florida and in the State of New York. Compared to previous years, human cases have increased: usually they are 5-6 reports a year. “It is still very rare, and it is more likely to contract West Nile from mosquitoes – a CDC official told CNN, but the consequences of EEE make people pay more attention.”

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The disease can only be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites in general as much as possible. Health officials have advised the population not to go out at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are more active. And to cover yourself in any case, to use insect repellent sprays, both on the body and on the clothes. Mosquitoes also adore stagnant water, so the CDC also recommends eliminating any accumulation of water in flower pots, buckets, barrels and even children’s pools. Public areas are receiving further disinfestation in areas considered at risk.

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