Triple E has a nice “Captain Trips” ring to it. A kinda friendly term for a super-deadly illness. Fortunately, Triple E, also known as Eastern equine encephalitis, doesn’t quite boast a 99.4 percent transmission/fatality rate, so we don’t have to worry about the final battle between good and evil just yet. However, the virus is on the move in parts of the East Coast—namely the buggy coasts of Maryland, Delaware, and Massachusetts.
Triple E is a variety of West Nile Virus, albeit more lethal. There’s no cure for it, and a third of humans infected will die, according to the CDC. The general effect of the virus is to cause dangerous brain swelling, first causing general flu-like symptoms and, if things deteriorate, convulsions, coma, and death. Brain damage is another possible result. All that doctors can provide is supportive care, leaving the infection’s outcome up to your immune system.
OK, here’s some good news. Triple E isn’t transmitted person to person—instead by mosquitoes and usually to horses--and it’s also extremely rare. The U.S. sees five to 10 human cases a year, making you more likely to die from a common flu. At the same time, it’s lethal enough that even a horse dying of it, as one did recently on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, is enough to have officials concerned. There’s a horse vaccine but nothing for people so far. If you’re lurking around the mid-Atlantic swamplands—where the mosquitoes are actually from hell itself—maybe slap on some Off.
Of course we're talking about mosquito diseases because 'tis the season. Triple E's West Nile Virus cousin, a rather less deadly but still debilitating neuroinvasive disease, is officially on the move in most U.S. states (a regular occurane this time of year). So far, there have been 174 cases in the U.S. this year, with seven deaths. This is notably way down from 2012's epic outbreak, which saw a total of 286 deaths out of nearly six thousand infections. Those are numbers that make Triple E look like a double lightning strike.
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