Fri, Sep 6, 2013 12:43 PM
(AP) _ Tests have found more mosquitoes infected with the virus
that causes the potentially deadly disease Eastern equine
encephalitis, and the Vermont Health Department is urging people to
protect themselves from mosquitoes during outdoor activities.
The virus was found in a number of samples taken in swampy areas
of Whiting, nearby Leicester, Brandon and Sudbury, the health
"The entire area around this swamp system appears to be a hot spot
for EEE," Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen said in a news release
So far this year no human cases of EEE have been reported in
Vermont; last year two people who lived near the swamp died of the
disease. EEE strikes the central nervous system and kills about 35
percent of the people who contract a form of the illness.
"It's definitely caught a lot of peoples' attention," said Tim
Schmalz, chief of the plant industry section at the Vermont Agency
of Agriculture who has been studying EEE.
Scientists have also detected West Nile virus in the state,
including a human case and one in a horse. The human patient
The health department is urging anyone who goes outside during the
early evening and morning hours when mosquitoes are most active to
wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and use insect repellant.
Property owners should also fix holes in door and window screens
and reduce mosquito habitat by dumping out standing water.
There is evidence the EEE virus has existed for years across the
Eastern U.S. and into Canada, said Erica Berl, a department
infectious disease epidemiologist.
The mosquito that spreads EEE is found in a type of swamp, such as
is found in northern Rutland and southern Addison counties.
"We think most of the risk is associated with living within five
to 10 miles of a hardwood, acidic swamp. It's not uniformly
distributed across the area, but it seems to show up like
hotspots," Berl said.
Schmalz said the virus builds up in birds and mosquitoes over the
summer He said that because two people and some horses died from
EEE in Vermont last year, the office has stepped its efforts to
understand the virus.