New Brunswick, N.J. (Oct. 7, 2019) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick mosquito expert Dina M. Fonseca is available to comment on potentially deadly eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in New Jersey this year.

The rare EEE virus can cause inflammation in the brain in severe cases, and infected mosquito bites can transmit the virus to people and horses. Three human cases have been confirmed in New Jersey so far, according to the N.J. Department of Health.

About 4 percent to 5 percent of people infected with the virus develop the disease, and about 30 percent of people with the illness die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many survivors have ongoing neurologic problems.

“Unlike Zika or West Nile, eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is a disease native to New Jersey,” said Professor Fonseca, director of the Center for Vector Biology in the Department Entomology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers–New Brunswick. “EEE is a bird disease primarily transmitted by native bird-biting mosquitoes that develop in small pockets of water in bogs and hardwood swamps. It is unclear what led to the unusually high EEE virus infection rates in adult mosquitoes we are seeing this year and why infected mosquitoes are biting people. Once infected mosquitoes are present, the best way to prevent transmission is to control them with adulticides. People should also take steps to prevent mosquito bites, including correctly applying DEET or other FDA-approved insect repellents when outdoors.”

Professor Fonseca is available to comment at [email protected]                        


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