Department of Health Policy and Management and Department of Tropical Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Department of General Pediatrics, Children's Hospital, State Laboratory Institute, Department of Public Health Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts
To estimate the economic burden imposed by eastern encephalitis (EE), we identified a series of residents of eastern Massachusetts who had survived EE infection and enumerated any costs that could be attributed to their experience. The records of three people who suffered only a transient episode of disease were analyzed as well as those of three who suffered severe residual sequelae. Transiently affected subjects mainly required assistance for direct medical services; the average total cost per case was $21,000. Those who suffered persistent sequelae remained at home and seemed likely to live a normal span of years, but without gainful employment. Early in the course of their chronic illness, costs ranged as high as $0.4 million per year, but plateaued at about $0.1 million after three years. Hospital costs, which dominated early in the disease experience, approached $0.3 million per patient. Educational costs tended to replace hospital costs after two years as the dominant economic burden and totaled about $0.3 million per patient during the first six years. Total costs then averaged almost $0.8 million. By the time that these subjects will have reached 22 years of age, disease-related costs will have totaled about $1.5 million. Institutionalization will impose an additional lifetime cost of $1.0 million. Insecticidal interventions designed to avert outbreaks of human EE infection cost between $0.7 million and $1.4 million, depending on the extent of the treated region. The direct costs of an intervention are less than the $3 million imposed on one person suffering residual sequelae of EE.