Deadly Mosquito-borne Virus Detected in South AL

Aug 5, 2017

A deadly mosquito-borne virus has been detected in south Alabama.

AL.com reports mosquitoes in parts of Mobile County are carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a disease that Mobile County Health Officer Dr. Bernard H. Eichold II says has a human mortality rate between 50 to 75 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe EEE as "one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States", but it is also very rare, with only a few cases reported across the country each year.

The Mobile County Health Department says the disease was detected at three sentinel chicken sites in zip codes covering the Theodore area south of Mobile, and the Kushla and Eight Mile areas northwest of the city. "Sentinel chickens" are kept in cages by the Mobile County Health Department in areas where they are exposed to mosquitoes, and their blood is regularly tested for diseases like EEE and West Nile Virus.

Mobile County saw one confirmed human case of EEE in 2015, and none last year. No vaccine exists for humans, so the county encourages caution and preventative measures.

MCHD Vector Services Director Jerry Folse says mosquito control efforts will be ramped up in the affected areas.