State Officials Report Positive Mosquitoes for Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus in Voluntown
HARTFORD, Conn.—The Connecticut Department of Public Health is advising residents in southeastern Connecticut to protect themselves and their children from mosquitoes to reduce the chance of contracting eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus.
Mosquitoes trapped in the Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown on Sept. 23 have tested positive for EEE. These results represent the first EEE positive mosquitoes identified in the state by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station this year. The mosquitoes were Culiseta melanura, a predominately bird-biting species, and Ochlerotatus canadensis, a mammal-biting species. Connecticut residents are reminded to protect themselves from mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases.
"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," said DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD. “While the detection of EEE virus is of concern, it is important to remember that we do not expect to see a lot of mosquito activity in the month of October.”
EEE is a serious but rare illness caused by a virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can only acquire the virus by feeding on infected wild birds. In most years, the virus is found only in species of mosquitoes which feed on birds, but occasionally the virus can be passed on to other mosquito species known to bite people and horses. The virus cannot be passed from person to person or from horses to humans. The risk of mosquito-transmitted diseases such as EEE virus usually increases through the late summer and early fall. Mosquitoes are active until the first heavy frost.
Infection with EEE virus can cause serious illness affecting the brain. Symptoms include high fever, headache, stiff neck, and decreased consciousness. The disease is fatal in 25-50 percent of cases and many of those who recover experience lasting health problems. Individuals with symptoms suggestive of EEE infection should contact their physician immediately. No human vaccine against EEE virus infection or specific antiviral treatment for clinical EEE virus infections is available.
To reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes residents should:
- 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 more 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 babies when outdoors.
- Consider the use of mosquito repellent, according to directions, when it is necessary to be outdoors.
Connecticut Mosquito Management Program
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. These agencies are responsible for monitoring the potential public health threat of mosquito-borne diseases.
The CAES maintains a network of 108 mosquito-trapping stations in 87 municipalities throughout the state. Mosquito traps are set Monday through Thursday nights at each site every 10 days on a rotating basis. Mosquitoes are grouped (pooled) for testing according to species, collection site, and date. Positive findings are reported to local health departments and on the CAES website.
For information on EEE and other mosquito-borne diseases, what can be done to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes, the latest mosquito test results and human infections, visit the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program website.