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Health officials warn New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts residents over mosquito-borne virus

Health officials warn New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts residents over mosquito-borne virus
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Health officials in New Jersey, Michigan and Massachusetts are warning residents of mosquitos carrying a potentially deadly virus.

Cases of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), a rare virus that causes brain inflammation, have been recorded in each of the three states.

The New Jersey Department of Health confirmed a case earlier this month where a man was hospitalized. The department is urging residents to take extra precautions to avoid being bitten.

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The disease has been detected in 22 mosquito samples in the state.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed one case and is investigating another three.

“Mosquito-borne diseases can cause long-term health effects in people and even death,” said Dr. Mary Grace Stobierski, manager of the Zoonotic and Emerging Infectious Diseases Section at the agency. “These cases, along with confirmed cases in horses and deer in the state, stress the importance of taking precautions against mosquito bites.”

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed the fourth case of the infection in humans in the state earlier this week, warning of the "serious and potentially fatal disease."

The EEE virus has been found in 334 mosquito samples in the state so far this year.

The infection is fatal in about 30 percent of people and many survivors are left with chronic neurological problems from mild to severe brain damage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There is no designated treatment available for the disease, which affects less than 10 people per year in the U.S.