Conference Call Scheduled Thursday With State and Local Health Officials

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE      CONTACT: Donna Tommelleo, 860-524-7313

September 16, 2009                                                 


Concerned that mosquitoes carrying potentially deadly Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus have been showing up in an increasing number of Connecticut communities, Governor M. Jodi Rell today has directed state health and environmental officials to closely monitor the situation and provide timely and detailed updates to her and local leaders.


“Through our statewide mosquito trapping program, we have determined that the virus has now been identified in human-biting mosquitoes. It is essential that citizens take every precaution to avoid mosquito bites over the next few weeks and that means trying to avoid going outdoors at dusk when mosquitoes are most active,” Governor Rell said.


Governor Rell will hold a statewide conference call tomorrow afternoon with local municipal leaders, health districts and emergency directors on updates of EEE in Connecticut. Also participating in the call will be officials from the state departments of Environmental Protection, Public Health, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.


The Governor said the presence of mosquitoes carrying the EEE virus is more widespread and greater in numbers than in previous years.  EEE in mosquitoes has been confirmed in 12 Connecticut towns this year: Chester, Guilford, Hampton, Hebron, Killingworth, Lyme, Madison, North Branford, North Stonington, Old Lyme, Tolland and Willington.


The virus has also been detected in several Northeast states and there has been a human case in New York and one in New Hampshire.  In addition to EEE, the state has also identified West Nile Virus (WNV) positive mosquitoes in 11 towns in Connecticut this year.


The state addressed a similar surge in EEE-mosquito activity in the late 1990s, mostly in southeastern Connecticut. The situation was a serious concern especially after neighboring Rhode Island reported a human death attributed to the virus. Connecticut has never had a confirmed case in humans.


“Precaution and prevention are critical as we get through the final few weeks of the mosquito season,” Governor Rell said. “We will not be out of the woods, however, until after the first major frost.”


Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but often serious disease.  Symptoms of EEE can include high fever, stiff neck, headache and lack of energy. The most serious result of infection is encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, and is fatal in approximately one-third of persons who become ill. Symptoms generally appear from 3 to 10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. 


Precautions to avoid mosquito bites include:

  • Minimize time outdoors at dusk and dawn.
  • Be sure door and window screens are tight fitting and in good repair. 
  • Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Clothing material should be tightly woven.
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors.
  • Consider using mosquito repellent when it is necessary to be outdoors. Always use according to label instructions. The most effective repellents contain DEET or Picaridin. Do not apply to the hands of children or to infants less than 2 months old.

Additional resources for information on West Nile virus and mosquito management: