EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS

EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS

 

Easter equine encephalitis is a viral disease that rarely affects humans but can be very fatal once contracted. It is a disease caused by an alphavirus and arbovirus found mostly in the America, some parts of the Carribean and the Gulf coast.  This virus is mostly found on avian species (birds) that is carried through by mosquito vectors known to be as Culiseta melanura and Culiseta morsitans to humans and other animal species.

Manifestations

Easter equine encephalitis has the following symptoms:

  • Flu
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Mental status alteration
  • Headache
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Brain damage
  • In some cases it can be asymptomatic

 

Pathophysiology

Like most encephalitis virus, this virus involves avian species like birds (mosquito-bird life cycle). This mosquito feeds on the birds, after which they acquire the infection. Infected vector feed onto other birds and further spread the infection, at rare times though; mammals including human beings are attacked. This constitutes to the small percentage of human infection cases. Once they fed on humans, the infection is then transmitted via blood and is spread in the body system. The virus then invades the central nervous system which includes the brain and the spinal column. Following events may be critical to the point of death.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of eastern equine encephalitis virus can be through:

  • Blood exams
  • Spinal fluid exams

Prevention

Prevention focuses on avoiding mosquitoes and their habitats as well as to control their population. It is recommended that individuals should use clothing that could protect their skin, the use of long pants and long sleeved shirts can be very helpful. Applying mosquito repellent lotion and putting up screened rooms and mosquito nets can prevent mosquito attacks. Promoting sanitation in the surroundings will be of great help. Vaccines available are not yet available for humans, mainly; vaccines are for other mammals such as horses.

Management

Until today, there is no specific treatment that can combat eastern equine encephalitis. It is rather just a supportive therapy to cater to symptoms and prevent complications. Since eastern equine encephalitis affects the central nervous system, nursing and medical management focuses more on supportive oxygenation (breathing especially), maintenance of fluid and electrolytes, improve mobility, providing self care, feeding, seizure management and passive ROMs. Medications are indicated so as to treat manifested symptoms like seizures, fever, convulsions, mental deficits and other possible complications.

 

Byron Webb Romero, RN, MSN

Finished BSN at Lyceum of the Philippines University, and Master of Science in Nursing Major in Adult Health Nursing at the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. Currently working at Manila Doctors College of Nursing as a Team Leader for Level I and II, Lecturer for Professional Nursing Subjects, and also a Clinical Instructor.

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