MONROE AND CARBON COUNTIES, Pa. — A deadly virus spread by mosquitoes has turned up in the Poconos. Triple E has been confirmed in Monroe and Carbon Counties.
The rare disease, which causes inflammation of the brain, has killed at least seven people across the U.S. It can also spread to birds and horses.
The Department of Health says no people in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania have been infected by Triple E as of yet this year.
However, the disease has been found in a pheasant in Pocono Township in Monroe County and two horses in Mahoning Township in Carbon County.
Peggy Hauschild sprays her horses at Bushkill Riding Stable in Middle Smithfield Township near Stroudsburg with mosquito repellent more than five times a day.
She has to be extra careful now, as cases of Triple E have been confirmed in other places in the Poconos.
“Makes me feel terrible because it could happen to anybody. You can’t prevent the mosquitoes and the flies. You just have to take very good caution… keep everything very clean,” Hauschild said.
Triple E stands for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. The virus spreads after a mosquito bites an infected bird. From there, mosquitoes can transmit the illness by biting other birds, horses, and people.
Hauchild isn’t taking any chances at her barn. She spends more than eight hours a day cleaning and making sure there is no standing water for mosquitoes to grow.
“We have a pest control company come every other week and spray the entire field, the barn, every piece of property,” Hauschild said.
The CDC says the best way to protect yourself against Triple E is by wearing bug spray, particularly ones with the ingredient Deet. The CDC also recommends people wear long sleeves and pants.
People start to show symptoms within three to ten days of being bitten.
Dr. Peter Ender is an infectious disease specialist with St. Luke’s Hospital in Monroe County. He gave us some warning signs of the illness.
“It involves things like even a more persistent high-fever, a more severe headache, the development of confusion, sleepiness, some people go into a coma and may have seizures,” Ender said.
There is no cure for Triple E. The CDC says approximately 30% of people diagnosed with Triple E are killed by the disease.
Many survivors go on to have severe brain damage.