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Cases of Rare But Deadly Encephalitis Rising Among Kids, Report Finds
Date:1/17/2013

name stems from the fact that the infection was first identified in horses. The disease occurs mostly in Atlantic and Gulf Coast states, though it has recently occurred in the Great Lakes area, too. Eastern equine encephalitis can affect all age groups, according to the CDC.

People can be infected with the virus but never develop the disease. For those who develop Eastern equine encephalitis, the consequences are often severe. The death rate is about 33 percent, CDC figures show.

The disease usually begins between four and 10 days after a mosquito bite. Symptoms include a sudden-onset headache, high fever, chills and vomiting, according to the CDC. As the disease progresses, there may also be seizures and coma.

There is no specific treatment for Eastern equine encephalitis. Doctors treat symptoms as they occur.

Of the 15 children included in the study, four died, five had serious neurological problems, two had mild to moderate neurological problems and four recovered fully.

Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, chairman of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Research Center at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City, pointed out that "this is a rare condition that, [as] you learn in a medical school textbook, has a poor outcome. And, that's confirmed by the numbers in this review. Only 25 percent of those with Eastern equine encephalitis came out normal," he said.

Both Ahmed and Bromberg said the only way to prevent the infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. That means avoiding being outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. It also means that you should make sure there are no mosquito breeding grounds nearby, so empty any container that holds standing water.

More information

Learn more about Eastern equine encephalitis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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