Trending Clinical Topic: EEE Virus

Ryan Syrek

Disclosures

October 11, 2019

Each week, we identify one top search term, speculate as to what caused its popularity, and provide an infographic on a related condition. If you have thoughts about what's trending and why, feel free to share them with us on Twitter or Facebook.

Concern about this rare but deadly condition made Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus the week's top trending clinical topic. Mostly found east of the Mississippi River in the United States and in Gulf coastal areas (eg, Mexico, northern coast of South America, Caribbean), the EEE virus is a mosquito-borne disease that causes brain swelling and leads to death in nearly a third of those who are infected.

The EEE virus is typically seen in the summer and early fall and has been seemingly more severe this year. Whereas only seven human cases are reported on average in the United States annually, around 30 cases have been reported this year, with 11 fatalities. This has put health officials on high alert. For example, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has warned of a "critical risk" of the virus in 35 communities, with another 40 at high risk.

Also known as "Triple E" or "sleeping sickness," the condition is striking in its severity. In Michigan, one individual was described as being "perfectly healthy" a little over a week before his death. Three others in Michigan have also died this year from the virus. With no vaccine and no specific antiviral treatment available, prevention of mosquito bites remains the only proven strategy. Mosquito season normally would be winding down in the regions affected, but unseasonably warm temperatures in those areas may potentially extend it. Although the EEE virus has captured quite a bit of attention recently, the hope is that it will not be a trending clinical topic much longer this year.

Read more about EEE virus.

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