NEW YORK (AP) – Heath officials say U.S. deaths and illnesses from a rare mosquito-borne virus are higher than usual this year.
Eastern equine encephalitis has been diagnosed in 21 people in six states and five people have died. The infection is only being seen in certain counties within a small number of states. The U.S. each year has seven illnesses and three deaths, on average.
In North Carolina, a four-year-old mare that was unvaccinated was diagnosed with the disease in Cumberland County in July. The horse has since been euthanized.
One person in Catawba County was reportedly diagnosed with the disease, but has recovered.
It’s not clear why numbers are up this year, but for some reason cases seem to spike once every several years.
Most infections occur in the summer, so health officials do not think it will get much worse.
As of Wednesday, Massachusetts had eight cases, followed by Michigan, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and North Carolina.