STONINGTON, CT—Mosquitoes trapped in Stonington, North Stonington and Voluntown have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis or EEE. And among those found with the virus are ones “known to bite humans,” health officials said.
As a result, residents in all three towns are advised to avoid outdoor activities “from one hour before to one hour after dawn and dusk,” according to a statement from the director of health for the Ledge Light Health District, as well as the Uncas Health District.
“EEE is a rare but serious disease caused by a virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Historically, the virus has been found in trapped mosquitoes in Connecticut, but only one person has died from EEE,” said Ledge Light director of health Stephen Mansfield.
In Stonington, mosquitoes trapped on Barn Island, and near Stonington High School tested positive; in the latter, three mosquitoes, a large number relative to the others, tested positive for the virus. In North Stonington, in an area long the Pawcatuck River and near exit 93 off I-95 tested positive. In Voluntown, on Aug. 21, two mosquitoes tested positive in traps neat Mt. Misery.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health has issued its own caution.
DPH Commissioner Renée Coleman Mitchell said it’s “important for all Connecticut residents, especially in the southeastern part of the state, to take recommended precautions to avoid mosquito bites seriously.”
The virus was also found in mosquitoes trapped in Chester, Haddam, Hampton, and Killingworth.
The Centers for Disease Control says while rare, the virus in humans and the subsequent illness runs the gamut from not having any symptoms at all to far worse.
The CDC says from the time of an infected mosquito bite to illness can range from four to 10 days and can result in either systemic or encephalitic, “involving swelling of the brain, referred to below as EEE.” Symptoms include chills, fever, tiredness, tremors, confusion, and joint and muscle pain. The illness can last one to two weeks if there’s no “central nervous system involvement,” which would be the worst case with this virus and include inflammation of the brain, encephalitis, which can lead to coma, convulsions, and death.
But now, in Massachusetts, there are four confirmed cases of humans contacting the virus, and one death.
Here’s a Tuft’s Medical Center physician talks about the virus.
There is no vaccine to prevent against EEE. But there are many ways to avoid being bitten including, staying indoors.
Additional precautions to avoid mosquito bites include:
• Be sure door and window screens are tight fitting and in good repair.
• While outdoors, wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts. Clothing material should be tightly woven.
• Use mosquito netting if sleeping outdoors.
• Consider using mosquito repellent when it is necessary to be outdoors and always use them according to label instructions. The most effective repellents contain DEET or Picaridin. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is also effective for brief periods of exposure.
• When using DEET, use the lowest concentration effective for the time spent outdoors (for example, 6% lasts approximately 2 hours and 20% for 4 hours) and wash treated skin when returning indoors. Do not apply under clothing, to wounds or irritated skin, the hands of children, or to infants less than 2 months. Measures to reduce mosquitoes around the home include:
• Dispose of water-holding containers, such as ceramic pots, used tires, and tire Swings, clogged gutters.
• Drill holes in the bottom of containers such as those used for recycling.
• Change water in bird baths on a weekly basis.
• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, and cover pools when not in use.
• Use landscaping to eliminate areas where water can collect on your property.