Wisconsin health officials confirm first human case of eastern equine encephalitis

A photo of a mosquito on human skin
James Gathany/CDC

MADISON, Wis. — Health officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services have confirmed the first case of eastern equine encephalitis in the state.

A lab test has confirmed that an Eau Claire County resident, a female under the age of 18, tested positive for the disease. The last confirmed human case of EEE in Wisconsin was reported in 2017.

Last week, DHS officials confirmed that six horses in three northwestern Wisconsin counties were infected with the virus. The virus is spread to humans via mosquito bites. It can not be spread person to person or between animals and humans.

While rare, EEE is potentially fatal. It can affect people of all ages, according to a news release.

Health officials said the best way to avoid contracting the virus is by avoiding mosquitoes and their bites. Insect repellent and wearing long-sleeves, pants and socks when outdoors are recommended to keep the insects away from your skin.

“We all have an important role to play in protecting ourselves and our loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes,” State Health Officer Stephanie Smiley said. “Every preventive step we take makes a difference.”

Health officials said avoiding the outdoors during peak hours is a better option when possible.

Minimizing mosquito breeding grounds by removing any stagnant water is also recommended.