October 16, 2019

State Rep. Devin Carney Offers More Information on Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and How to Protect Yourself

We received an updated version of the following email from State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) at 6:53 p.m. this afternoon, and believe it is important to share it with our readers as soon as possible.

Precautions for dealing with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)

As many of you know, two people from Southeastern CT (East Lyme & Old Lyme) have recently passed away after being diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (“EEE”) caused by a mosquito bite from an infected mosquito. Our hearts go out to the families affected.

Due to the recent EEE cases, state and local officials are urging folks to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families. The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station is also adding additional monitoring sites in Lyme/Old Lyme and East Lyme in light of the recent tragedies.

During a call with Stephen Mansfield of Ledge Light Health District, I was told that infected mosquitoes were found near Blood St/Avenue B in Lyme and Old Lyme. So be extra cautious in those areas. However, this is an issue is endemic to Southeastern CT, so it is important to take precautions everywhere.

Here are some responses to frequently asked questions from the State of CT Mosquito Management Program:

What is Eastern Equine Encephalitis?

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a rare but serious disease caused by the EEE virus.

How is Eastern Equine Encephalitis spread?

EEE is spread through contact with adult mosquitos.  The virus is generally carried by an exclusive bird-biting mosquito that live in freshwater swamps called Culiseta melanura. The highest risk of getting EEE is from late July through September. It has been found in 9 others mosquito species in CT, 6 of which are known to bite.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms usually occur from 3 to 10 days. Most people who have been infected with the EEE virus do not become ill. Symptoms can range from mild fever and headache to coma. Other symptoms include high fever, fatigue, muscle aches, neck stiffness, tremors, or confusion. More severe cases can lead to death.

Is there a vaccine or/any treatment?

No. There is no cure for EEE, and 3 of every 10 people who get the disease die from it. Doctors provide supportive treatment, lower the fever, and ease the pressure on the brain and spinal cord. Some people who survive this disease will be permanently disabled and only about half recover completely. There isn’t currently any vaccine because the EEE virus occurs so infrequently in people.

How is EEE spread?

Mosquitoes spread the EEE virus. The virus is carried by birds that live in freshwater swamps and is generally found only in these birds and in mosquitoes that feed on birds but not people. In some years, however, many birds get infected and other types of mosquitoes pick up the virus that also bite people and horses. The risk of getting EEE is highest from late July through September. The virus is spread by adult mosquitoes, which are killed by frost in the fall. The EEE virus is not spread by people and horses with the disease.

Can any mosquito spread EEE to people?

No. In Connecticut, there are 52 different mosquito species. Since 1996, EEE virus has been isolated from mosquitoes in Connecticut every year except 1999, usually during September and early October. The virus is generally maintained by an exclusive bird-biting mosquito called Culiseta melanura, but has been found in 9 other mosquito species in Connecticut, 6 of which are known to bite people.

What can I do to protect myself or my family?

According to the CDC, you should do the following:

  • Minimize time spent outdoors around dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use insect repellent with one of the active ingredients below
    • DEET Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
    • IR3535
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
    • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
    • 2-undecanone

** Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old**

**Do not apply insect repellent to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin**

Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
    • Use permethrin to treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
    • Permethrin is an insecticide that kills or repels mosquitoes.
    • Permethrin-treated clothing provides protection after multiple washings.
  • Take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors
        • Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outdoors.
        • Use air conditioning, if available.
        • Stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water.
        • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers.

For additional information on EEE, visit the following link from Ledge Light Health Center District –“Mosquitoes in Lyme and Old Lyme Test Positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis

Editor’s Note: If you have additional questions on this topic, or would like to speak with Rep. Carney about a concern regarding state government, email him at Devin.Carney@housegop.ct.gov or call 800-842-1423.

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