Eastern equine encephalitis virus, EEE, has been identified in Connecticut, in mosquitoes trapped in Voluntown last week. This summer’s appearance is the earliest in the sixteen years the testing program has been in operation.
Chief Medical Entomologist at the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station Dr. Theodore Andreadis says that though the virus was found in mostly bird-biting mosquitoes, it’s expected to spread. He says this summer’s heavy rains will also mean a longer season for potential spread of the virus before cold weather.
Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but serious disease. Though no human cases have been confirmed in Connecticut, outbreaks of EEE have been reported in the state for three-quarters of a century. The state Mosquito Management program says that on average six cases are reported each year in the United States. Though most infected people do not become ill, those who do suffer inflammation of the brain and as many as a third die.
Health authorities urged residents to take steps to protect against mosquito bites. Here are precautions suggested by the Mosquito Management Program:
• Minimize time spent outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
• Be sure door and window screens are tight-fitting and in good repair.
• Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are most active. Clothing should be light colored and made of tightly woven materials that keep mosquitoes away from the skin.
• Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure and to protect small babies when outdoors.
• Consider the use of mosquito repellent, according to directions, when it is necessary to be outdoors.