CONCORD — The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has identified the first batches of mosquitoes to test positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) this season. The batches were found recently in the town of Pelham and DHHS is working in partnership with the health officers in Pelham and surrounding towns to notify residents.
“Identification of the EEE virus in mosquitoes in New Hampshire is an important reminder that mosquito bites can transmit a number of potentially serious viral infections in our communities,” said NH State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan. “People need to take steps to prevent mosquito bites, including avoiding being outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, wearing protective clothing, using an effective mosquito repellant on exposed skin, and removing standing water from around the home where mosquitoes reproduce.”
EEE is one of three mosquito-transmitted diseases present in New Hampshire, including West Nile Virus (WNV) and Jamestown Canyon virus, and was first identified in the State in August of 2004. Since 2004, there have been 15 human infections with EEE identified in NH; the last human case of EEE in NH was in 2014, when there were three cases. There have been no EEE infections identified yet this season in humans or animals.
Symptoms of EEE virus usually appear 4 to 10 days after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the EEE virus. People who get sick from EEE can develop a flu-like illness, including fever, headache, weakness, and muscle and joint pains. A more serious central nervous system infection can develop such as meningitis and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). EEE typically causes a more serious disease than WNV and carries a high mortality rate for those who contract the serious encephalitic form of the illness. There is no specific treatment for the disease.
Prevention guidelines for EEE and other arboviruses can be found below. Anyone with questions about arboviruses, including EEE, can call the New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496. Fact Sheets on Easter Equine Encephalitis and other arboviruses are available on the DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov. For more information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov.