BURLINGTON — Four mosquito pools from the Whiting area in Addison County have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus and one pool tested positive for West Nile virus.
No human cases of EEE have been confirmed in Vermont, and the last human case of West Nile Virus in was in 2003. The state traps and tests mosquitoes, and tests people and horses that have symptoms consistent with the virus. Both viruses are spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Although only detected in Addison County so far this summer, the Health Department and Agency of Agriculture do not conduct mosquito testing statewide.
“The positive samples are the first evidence of EEE and West Nile virus in Vermont this year,” said State Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso. “It is a good reminder these viruses are circulating in Vermont and people should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.”
People who are infected with EEE can develop two types of illness. One has an abrupt onset, is characterized by chills, fever, malaise, arthralgia and myalgia, and lasts 1 to 2 weeks. The more severe illness affects the central nervous system and causes fever, headache, irritability, restlessness, drowsiness, convulsions and coma. Approximately a third of people with severe EEE illness die from the disease.
“EEE can be a serious illness, so take precautions to avoid mosquito bites,” Kelso said.
Most people have no symptoms of West Nile virus. But up to 20 percent of people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea and vomiting. About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness, which can be fatal.
The Health Department is reminding Vermonters to avoid mosquito bites by taking the following precautions:
• Wear long sleeves and pants.
• Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are active.
• Reduce mosquito breeding habitats by getting rid of standing water, by draining areas where water can pool such as rain gutters, wading pools and old tires.
• Use repellents that are labeled as effective against mosquitoes.
• Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
For more information on EEE and West Nile virus, visit the Vermont Department of Health website: healthvermont.gov. Follow us on Facebook, or look us up on Twitter.