An outbreak of a deadly brain infection is raising questions about whether climate change has affected the spread of the mosquito species that carry the disease.
There have been 31 confirmed cases of Eastern equine encephalitis, including nine deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making it the worst outbreak in decades.
Numbers released yesterday show the majority of cases have come out of Massachusetts, with 12 reported cases and three deaths. Michigan follows close behind with nine reported cases and three deaths. The CDC normally reports an average of seven neuroinvasive cases a year.
While the cause of the large outbreak is uncertain, the disease, also known as EEE, is one of many mosquito-borne diseases that researchers say could spread as a result of climate change (Climatewire, March 7).
EEE is a rare cause of brain infections, and no vaccination or specific treatment exists. About 30% of people with EEE die, according to the CDC, and those who survive often deal with ongoing neurological problems.