On August 30, 2023

Mosquitoes test positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)


 Vermonters are urged to take steps to protect themselves against mosquito bites, as mosquitoes in Grand Isle and Franklin Counties have tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) — a serious and potentially fatal mosquito-transmitted infection. These are the first detections of EEE in mosquitoes in Vermont since 2015.

 The Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets collects mosquitoes at locations throughout the state for testing at the Dept. of Health laboratory. So far this season more than 824 mosquito pools have been sampled. The positive EEE samples were collected on Aug. 8 from pools in Alburgh and Swanton. Earlier this month West Nile virus was detected among mosquitoes in Alburgh and Vergennes. 

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. The risk of infection is highest from late summer into fall. It takes four to 10 days after being infected to develop symptoms. Most people infected with EEE will have no or mild symptoms, such as fever, chills, fatigue, joint and body aches. However, while rare, EEE can result in severe illness − including encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. EEE is fatal in about one-third of people who develop severe EEE disease, and many who recover are left with disabilities. People with symptoms or who suspect exposure are encouraged to contact their health care provider as soon as they feel sick.

 There have been no human cases of EEE in Vermont reported this year. The last confirmed cases were in 2012 and resulted in the death of two people. A 2010 study detected antibodies to EEE in deer and moose throughout the state, indicating the virus is widely present in the environment and in wildlife populations.

 “EEE can be life-threatening. It’s important that people take this seriously and take measures now to protect themselves and their families from getting mosquito bites,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine. “These results are site specific, but we know from experience that West Nile virus and EEE can potentially be found in many places around Vermont.” 

There is no specific treatment or human vaccine for EEE. The best way to protect yourself and family is to prevent mosquito bites. The Health Department offers these simple and effective tips: 

 Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors.

 Limit your time outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are more likely to bite.

 Use insect repellent labeled as effective against mosquitoes. The EPA has a tool to help find the right repellent, which can also protect you from tick bites. 

 Get rid of standing water in places like gutters, tires, play pools, flowerpots and bird baths. Mosquitoes breed in water that has been standing for more than four days.

 Cover strollers and outdoor playpens with mosquito netting.

 Fix holes in screens and make sure they are tightly attached to doors, windows.

 Horse owners should consult with their veterinarians and make sure their animals are up to date on vaccinations for EEE, West Nile and other viruses spread by infected insects or ticks. Horses cannot spread EEE or West Nile viruses to humans or other horses, but the viruses can cause neurologic disease and death in unvaccinated animals. In 2012, two unvaccinated horses died from the virus.

 Agriculture officials said that the wet weather and statewide flooding have led to larger than usual mosquito populations. Vermonters are asked to remove standing water where possible to help limit places where mosquito larvae can hatch and grow into adults. You can eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flowerpots, buckets, barrels and other containers. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their side when not being used. 

For more information about EEE, visit HealthVermont.gov/Eastern-Equine-Encephalitis or HealthVermont.gov/Prevent-Mosquito-Bites.

Do you want to submit feedback to the editor?

Send Us An Email!

Related Posts

Large turnout for Hartland school budget info session

May 23, 2024
By Curt Peterson The May 21 Hartland school budget information session may be the best-attended school board gathering in recent history — an estimated 40 people attended in person at Damon Hall in Hartland, and another 41 tuned in online. Hartland voters had already approved the $11,040,567 budget 320-311 on April 2. But a petition…

United Way of Rutland County names new exc. director

May 22, 2024
The United Way of Rutland County (UWRC) announced the appointment of Tina Van Guilder as its new executive director, May 17.  Van Guilder officially assumed her role as executive director May 6. With over seven years of direct non-profit leadership experience in the Rutland County area, coupled with recent roles focusing on grant coordination, budget…

Slate Valley school district to hold fourth vote on district budget

May 22, 2024
In response to the results of the last vote on May 9, and valuable community feedback during the school board meeting on May 13, the Slate Valley Unified Union School District will hold its fourth vote in an attempt to pass the budget on May 30. It will be a revote on the third FY25…

Where is the road construction this week? 

May 22, 2024
The Agency of Transportation produces this weekly report of planned construction activities that will impact traffic on state highways and interstates throughout Vermont. Hartford: Monday, May 20, through Friday, May 24, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., multiple concrete mixers will be moving in and out of the project area at either end of the…