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Eastern Equine Encephalitis

Making a Diagnosis

Doctors use blood or spinal fluid tests to diagnose eastern equine encephalitis.

Who Might Be at Risk for Eastern Equine Encephalitis?

Anyone can get this disease, but some people are at increased risk:
  • People living in or visiting areas where the disease is common
  • People who work outside or participate in outdoor recreational activities in areas where the disease is common.
Eastern equine encephalitis occurs mainly in young children and in people over age 55.

Possible Complications

Eastern equine encephalitis is fatal to about half of those who develop severe symptoms. Of those who survive, many suffer permanent brain damage.

How to Treat Eastern Equine Encephalitis

There is no specific treatment for eastern equine encephalitis. No effective antiviral drugs have been discovered, and antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Caring for patients with this illness usually involves treating the symptoms and complications.


Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare disease. Since 1964, 163 eastern equine encephalitis cases have been confirmed in the United States. Fewer than five cases are reported in most years.
Although small outbreaks of human disease have occurred in the United States, eastern equine encephalitis epidemics in horses can be common during the summer and fall.
The risk of exposure to eastern equine encephalitis has been increasing as people move into previously undeveloped areas where the virus lives. Deaths in horses are a sign of increased spread of the virus in a community.
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