BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ (CBSNewYork) – A rare and potentially fatal mosquito-borne disease has been discovered in Union County, New Jersey.
The virus has recently emerged in several states and has already been linked to a number of deaths in the Northeast.
Parks and fields are sprayed with pesticides in Berkeley Heights after mosquitoes in the Emerson Lane area – near the Warren Township border – tested positive Tuesday for Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
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"I have three grandchildren and it's scary," said Adriana Austin.
"I sit outside a lot so I start applying bug spray," Brian Esnes added.
EEE is spread by mosquitoes to horses and humans.
In severe cases, viruses can cause swelling of the brain, leading to death.
Common symptoms include fever, chills and muscle and joint pain.
According to the CDC, about one-third of infected patients die and many survivors experience ongoing neurological problems.  “Make sure you have long sleeves with long pants with bug spray when you go out at dusk. Also remove any standing water, "warned Berkeley Heights Mayor Angie Devanney.
On average, the CDC states that seven people contract EEE in the United States each year.
So far this year, at least 20 human cases worldwide are reported in six states – including Connecticut and New Jersey. Deaths have been reported in Michigan, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Health officials add that there is no human vaccine for EEE either, which makes it even more dangerous.
"I'm afraid my daughter is the type who goes outside and mosquitoes like her right and she's on softball now so we cut her up really well and keep our fingers crossed," Barbara Roberts said.
The outbreak is as concerning in Michigan residents as it is said to stay indoors.
"The State Board does not encourage us to interrupt practice, do not interrupt these games just to make sure you wear bug spray and protective clothing," said Mayor Devanney.
Children under 15 and adults over 50 have the greatest risk.
New Jersey City officials say they will continue to test mosquitoes regularly until the first frost.