WHITING — Late August and September are the months when the risk for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV) infections are highest in our region. EEE virus was recently detected in two batches of mosquitoes collected in the town of Whiting on Aug. 19. This is the first detection of this virus this year in Addison or Rutland Counties, a region where EEE virus activity was high in previous years.
EEE virus has also been detected in a batch of mosquitoes collected in June from the town of Grand Isle, and WNV was recently detected in mosquitoes in St. Albans. Although mosquito surveillance is not detecting a lot of virus this year, the viruses are clearly still circulating and there is still a risk for infection.
EEE infection can result in either systemic or encephalitic illness. The type of illness and symptoms depends on the age of the person and other host factors. Some people who become infected with EEE may be asymptomatic. A systemic infection is characterized by an abrupt onset characterized by chills, fever, malaise, arthralgia and myalgia. The illness lasts one to two weeks, and recovery is complete when there is no central nervous system involvement. An encephalitic infection is also characterized by abrupt onset. Signs and symptoms in encephalitic patients are fever, headache, irritability, restlessness, drowsiness, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, cyanosis, convulsions and coma.
Prognosis: Approximately one-third of all people with the severe form of EEE die from the disease. Death usually occurs two to 10 days after onset of symptoms, but can occur much later. Many survivors are left with disabling and progressive mental and physical conditions.
Most people (70-80 percent) who become infected with West Nile Virus do not develop any symptoms.
To report a suspect case or to ask questions about testing for these diseases, call 802-863-7240. For more information visit healthvermont.gov/prevent/arbovirus/index.aspx.