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EEE confirmed in Escambia County child's death

By By Bill Crist Special to the Advance
Test results just released have confirmed what one local family has suspected since 8-year old Emilio Rivera of Brewton died July 26.
Officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health said they were notified Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta that a pre-teen Escambia County resident had died as a result of contracting Eastern equine encephalitis.
Results for a 67-year old Castleberry man, who is suspected to have contracted the virus as well, are still pending.
Both EEE and West Nile virus (WNV) are spread through mosquito bites, and symptoms among those infected are similar.
However, EEE is far more deadly, with roughly 30 percent of each incidence leading to death.
The Escambia County case of EEE marks the first death in the state since 1996, and only the 154th nationwide since 1964.
Escambia County Medical Examiner Dr. Dan Raulerson said that deaths from EEE are extremely rare, and that he did not know if there had been a previous instance when it had resulted in two fatalities over the span of 24 hours.
The cases have prompted a group of entomologists from Auburn University to travel to Escambia County to trap mosquitoes for study.
According to Ricky Elliott, an environmental officer with the Escambia County Health Department, the group was in the area late last week.
"They are gathering up mosquitoes to help find the species carrying the disease and where they are spread out," Elliott said.
In addition to the one confirmed and one suspected case of EEE in humans, three horses here have died because of the virus.
"There was another positive test this week," Elliott said. The horse, from near the Bradley community, died July 26. An autopsy was performed the next day and samples were sent to the Auburn Diagnostic lab for testing.
Results received last week confirmed the horse had died from EEE. Elliott said he suspects that there are more cases of EEE that are going unreported.