A rare brain-infecting virus has been detected in Orange County, Florida, and residents have been advised to avoid mosquitoes, which carry the deadly disease.
The Florida Department of Health in Orange County released a public advisory warning that the mosquito-borne, brain-infecting Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) infection has been found in the area.
The risk of transmission to humans has increased after several sentinel chickens, which local governments use to monitor and track infectious diseases, tested positive for the killer virus. Residents have been told to avoid mosquitoes, as a bite from an infected mosquito can lead to fatal swelling of the brain.
EEEV infection can cause dangerous brain swelling which triggers headaches, convulsions, and even death, and just two days after symptoms start. Survivors of the brain swelling can be left with neurological impairments. Not everyone who contracts EEEV develops swelling of the brain, however; the majority develop flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine for EEEV available. There are an average of seven cases detected in the US each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Members of the public have been advised to cover their bodies, use mosquito repellent, to drain off any stagnant water and to use screens on doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from getting indoors.