EEE virus found in Sudbury mosquitoes; state sprays twice

SUDBURY — Health officials have detected Eastern equine encephalitis in a test pool of mosquitoes in Sudbury.

It’s the first time the virus has been detected in mosquitoes outside of a hardwood swamp area in Whiting where there have been positive tests over the past two summers.

The mosquitoes were collected by the Agency of Agriculture on Aug. 19, and confirmed by the Health Department Laboratory on Aug. 23.

EEE has also been detected in two more pools (batches) of mosquitoes collected on Aug. 14 and 19 from the same area of Whiting where mosquitoes have tested positive already.

In addition, there have been positive tests for West Nile virus in Leicester, Whiting, Pittsford, Brandon, Shoreham and Fairfax.

On Aug. 22, the Agency of Agriculture managed an aerial pesticide spraying operation over a two-mile radius centered on the swampy area of Whiting north of Stickney Road. The continued detection of EEE in mosquitoes in Whiting prompted the decision to spray. A second treatment occurred Tuesday evening.

“It went off as planned, very smoothly,” said Department of Health Epidemiologist Erica Berl.

No more spraying is planned at this point, unless more instances of EEE are found in mosquitoes, Berl said.

Officials used the pesticide Sumithrin, also known as Anvil 10+10, the same pesticide that was sprayed last year after the first two human cases of EEE emerged. Richard Breen, 87, of Brandon and Scott Sgorbati, 49, of Sudbury both contracted EEE last summer and died.

In early September 2012, state health and agriculture officials made the decision to do an aerial spraying of pesticide over the Brandon and Whiting area to kill adult mosquitoes and reduce the risk to the public health. No other human cases of the virus have been reported since.

An updated and expanded arbovirus (mosquito-borne illness) surveillance plan with increased funding from the state has allowed for more frequent mosquito testing and money for aerial spraying. A budget increase of $331,500 from the FY2014 General Fund allowed for the hiring of additional field technicians and improved lab and testing resources. The increase brought the total funding for mosquito control and surveillance to $471,500, plus $25,000 in anticipated funding from the Vermont Department of Health. The total arbovirus surveillance budget includes an additional $175,000 in funding for local mosquito control districts, $89,500 for a vector coordinator to oversee specific areas of mosquito testing, and $144,000 for aerial spraying of adult mosquitoes when a public health risk is detected.

Officials said that continued positive EEE tests in mosquito pools would trigger an aerial spraying effort, which began last week.

For now, there are no human cases of EEE reported in Vermont.

“So far, so good,” Berl said.

The Vermont Department of Health recommends the following precautions in reducing exposure to Sumithrin (Anvil) before, during, or after spraying.

Actions you should take:

•  Stay inside or avoid the area when spraying takes place and for about 30 minutes after spraying. That time period will greatly reduce the likelihood of your breathing pesticide in air.

•  Close windows and doors and turn off window air-conditioning units or close their vents to circulate indoor air before spraying begins. Windows and air-conditioner vents can be reopened about 30 minutes after spraying.

•  If you come in direct contact with Anvil spray, protect your eyes. If you get Anvil spray in your eyes, immediately rinse with water. Wash exposed skin. Wash clothes that come in direct contact with spray separately from other laundry.

•  Consult your health care provider if you think you are experiencing health effects from spraying.

Actions you may want to take:

•  If spraying just occurred, minimize your contact with surfaces and wash skin that has come in contact with these surfaces.

•  Pick homegrown fruits and vegetables you expect to eat soon before spraying takes place. Rinse homegrown fruits and vegetables (in fact, all produce) thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

•  Cover outdoor tables and play equipment before spraying or wash them off with detergent and water after they have been sprayed.

•  Bring laundry and small toys inside before spraying begins. (Wash with detergent and water if exposed to Anvil during spraying.)

•  Bring pet food and water dishes inside, and cover fishponds to avoid direct exposure.

For extensive information about mosquito-borne illness, the spraying plan, a map of the spray area and precautions to take, go to www.healthvermont.gov.

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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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