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Man in coma after mosquito bite

LONDON, (Reuters)

A British tourist has been left in a coma after being bitten by a mosquito while holidaying in the United States.

Michael Nicholson has failed to regain consciousness more than a month after falling ill on his return to Scotland from a vacation on the East Coast.

Media reports said it is feared that even if he lives and regains consciousness, he will be severely disabled. Dr. Lorna Willocks, consultant in public health, NHS Lothian, told Reuters: "We are aware of a case of Eastern equine encephalitis where the patient had recently returned from the U.S.A."

NHS Lothian described Nicholson's condition as "stable". The painter and decorator from Livingston, West Lothian, was bitten by a mosquito carrying the rare but deadly virus which causes Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), also known as Triple E.

No known cure

It usually affects horses but five human cases are reported on average a year in the U.S., mainly in the eastern regions, and there is no known cure. Nicholson's sister, Sharan McKenzie, has called for better information to be given to British tourists travelling to the United States.

"I'm sure that most people are like me in thinking that if you are bitten by a mosquito in the U.S. it's the same as somewhere like Spain, irritating but not life threatening," she told a Scotland newspaper on Sunday.

"Triple E may be a rare condition but, as Michael's case shows, it can happen to anyone. Most tourists will never have heard of it."

Triple E is a rare mosquito-borne virus but has one of the highest mortality rates in humans, at 35 per cent.

October 10, 2007

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