Two more human cases of EEE found in Rhode Island

Cattail mosquitoes can transmit Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus to humans.
Cattail mosquitoes can transmit Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus to humans. Associated Press/File/Associated Press

Rhode Island officials announced Tuesday that two more human cases of Eastern equine encephalitis were confirmed in the state.

The two people — one a Coventry child younger than 10 and the other a person in their 50s from Charlestown — have been discharged from the hospital and are recovering, according to a statement from the state’s Department of Public Health.

Authorities think the two people contracted EEE in late August. The cases were confirmed by tests done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been three confirmed EEE cases in Rhode Island this year. A West Warwick resident diagnosed with the mosquito-borne illness died this month.


All three people contracted EEE before areas at critical risk for the disease were aerially sprayed with pesticide, state officials said.

EEE is a rare but potentially fatal disease that can cause brain inflammation and is transmitted to humans bitten by infected mosquitoes, according to federal authorities. About one-third of infected people who develop the disease will die, officials have said, and those who recover often live with severe and devastating neurological complications. There is no treatment for EEE.

“This has been a year with significantly elevated EEE activity, and mosquitoes will remain a threat in Rhode Island until our first hard frost, which is still several weeks out,” said Ana Novais, the deputy director for the state’s health department.

She continued, “Personal mosquito-prevention measures remain everyone’s first defense against EEE. If possible, people should limit their time outdoors at sunrise and sunset. If you are going to be out, long sleeves and pants are very important, as is bug spray.”

EEE was also confirmed in a deer in Exeter this week.

In Massachusetts, eight human cases of EEE have been confirmed this year. Last month, a Fairhaven woman with EEE died.


Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.