Mosquito-transmitted Triple E illness confirmed in Delaware

Eastern Equine Encephalitis — a rare mosquito-transmitted illness considered worse than West Nile Virus — has been found in Delaware, state officials say.

The illness, referred to more succinctly as Triple E, was found in sentinel chickens the state monitors for mosquito-transmitted illnesses. Delaware has 20 sentinel chicken coups located throughout the state.

Four chickens from three locations tested positive for Triple E, health officials said. The affected stations are located in New Castle County, east-central Kent County and southeastern Sussex County.

Health officials say symptoms of Triple E do not appear until 4-10 days after being bitten. The most severe cases of the illness include inflammation of the brain and a sudden headache. High fever, chills and vomiting can also accompany the illness. Around 33% of severe cases lead to death, and those who survive can experience brain damage and other long-term health complications, according to the state. Those below 15 years old and above 50 years old are at the greatest risk for the illness. 

State health officials urge residents in affected areas to use bug repellent with DEET whenever outdoors and to shield skin with long sleeved clothing. They also warn residents to avoid known highly populated mosquito areas and to stay indoors during peak mosquito hours like dusk and dawn.

The state also suggests residents remove items on their property that collect water, such as uncovered trash cans, stagnant bird baths, upright wheelbarrows or clogged gutters.

The Mosquito Control Section of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will continue to monitor areas where Triple E was detected. Precautionary options include spraying and fogging with a spray truck.

Residents who notice an intolerable number of biting mosquitos are asked to contact Mosquito Control Section serving their county.

  • New Castle /Northern Kent: 302-836-2555
  • Southern Kent/Sussex County: 302-422-1512 

More infromation can be found on Delaware state website.