"It's interesting because something like between 1831 and 1959 has documented about 13 cases. But for the first time this year, there are at least 36."
– Anthony Focchi, National Institute of Allergy and Director of Infectious Diseases, Axios
Background: EEE is a member of the alphavirus family that is prone to attack the brain. The virus spreads mainly from Culiseta melanura mosquitoes and various tree birds found in forested wetlands, but can also circulate in small mammals, reptiles or amphibians, according to the NIAID.
- While human infections are rare and most people (96%) show no symptoms, the mortality rate for those who experience symptoms is "really high" at a mortality rate of about 35%, while many others suffer from permanent and severe neurological impairment, says Fauchi.  Researchers still do not know why the virus is sometimes able to break the blood-brain barrier and cause damage, Faci added.
Last: As of November 19, there were 36 confirmed cases and 14 deaths from EEE virus disease in eight conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They were in: Connecticut (4), Indiana (1), Massachusetts (12), Michigan (10), North Carolina (1), New Jersey (4), Rhode Island (3) and Tennessee (1).  In a follow-up to the publication of the New England Journal of Medicine published Wednesday, NIAID officials, including Fauci, described the threat of the increasing spread of vectors (mosquitoes or ticks) by humans, such as EEE.  Four vector-borne human diseases have "evolved" so that they now infect A. aegypti a mosquito that feeds primarily on humans, the authors say. These are dengue, yellow fever, zika and chikungunya.
Threat Level: "You don't want Ayades to adapt to that [EEE virus]," Fauchi says. That hasn't happened yet, he points out, but researchers are "watching it."
What's next: Some CNS officials earlier this year called for a national defense strategy to coordinate the health responses of all vectors
- There is also a vaccine against EEE developed by the US Army, which is currently in a clinical trial.
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