Mosquitoes have been reported positive for the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus in southeastern Connecticut, and the UNCAS Health District is advising residents to take preventative measures.
Mosquitoes trapped in the Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown, Connecticut on Sept. 5 have tested positive for EEE, making it one of the six towns with EEE-infected mosquitoes identified in the state this year, according to the press release by the UNCAS Health District.
Although the virus transmitted by mosquitoes is rare, the risk usually increases through the late summer and into early fall until the first heavy frost, according to the press release. Mosquitoes can only acquire the virus by feeding on infected wild birds, but then can pass EEE on to other mosquito species that bite humans and horses. The virus cannot be passed from person to person or from horses to humans.
EEE infection can cause serious brain damage. Symptoms include high fever, headache, stiff neck and decreased consciousness, according to the press release.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, the disease is fatal in about one-third of cases and many of those who recover experience lasting health problems. The CDC said individuals with symptoms suggestive of EEE infection should contact their health care provider.
Although there are no medications to prevent or treat EEE virus infections, according to the CDC, there are still ways to prevent mosquito bites, such as wearing mosquito repellent and clothes that cover bare skin.
The UNCAS Health District is reminding Connecticut residents to take preventative measures. UNCAS is an unaffiliated, unincorporated, non-profit organization that operates under Connecticut General Statutes, providing public health services to more than 100,000 residents in 11 Connecticut towns.
“We encourage residents of southeastern Connecticut to take simple measures such as wearing mosquito repellent and covering bare skin, especially during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active,” Patrick McCormack, MPH, Director of Health at UNCAS, said.
There are agencies responsible for monitoring the potential public health threat of mosquito-borne diseases in the state. The State of Connecticut Mosquito Management Program is a collaborative effort involving the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Agriculture and the University of Connecticut Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science.
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station maintains a network of 108 mosquito-trapping stations in 89 municipalities throughout the state. Mosquitoes are grouped for testing according to species, collection site and date. Positive findings are reported to local health departments and on the CAES website.