Rhode Island Hospital publishes paper on EEE treatment

Dr. Linda Wendell

Rhode Island Hospital has published the results of a study on the treatment of Eastern equine encephalitis, which can be deadly.

Doctors were able to treat a young man with a severe form of the disease.

About half of all people who are diagnosed with EEE will die from a brain infection. The virus is carried by mosquitoes.

Two summers ago, when a 21-year-old man showed up at the hospital with brain swelling and seizures, Dr. Linda Wendell and the rest of the neurocritical team at Rhode Island Hospital came up with a new course of treatment for EEE.

Doctors said it was an infected mosquito that gave the man EEE and that part of what saved his life is that he went to the hospital as soon as he noticed life-threatening symptoms.

"Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment and so supportive care is the key to treating these patients. So, what we did is treat all of the symptoms from the EEE, so we ended up treating the brain swelling, treating the seizures, until he recovered from the encephalitis," Wendell said.

After spending a month in the hospital, the patient is considered cured. He has minor memory problems.

Symptoms to look for include headache associated with a fever; going in and out of consciousness; weakness; or other audio, visual or touch deficits.