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DHHS Identifies First Horse with Eastern Equine Encephalitis
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Issued By Bureau of Infectious Disease Control
Publish Date:
August 28, 2019

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced that a horse from Northwood has been identified with the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus infection. This is the first finding of EEE in a horse this year, though a mosquito batch from Pelham tested positive for EEE two weeks ago.

The arboviral risk level for the town of Northwood will be increased to high. The surrounding towns of Barnstead, Barrington, Deerfield, Epsom, Nottingham, Pittsfield, and Strafford will increase from low to moderate.

“We have had multiple positive tests for mosquito-transmitted viruses already this season in New Hampshire, and risk for human infection is likely to increase through the rest of the summer and fall,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, NH State Epidemiologist. “Eastern Equine Encephalitis in particular, can cause serious brain infection and neurologic disease. With the holiday weekend approaching, we want people to enjoy outdoor activities, but it is critical for residents and visitors to take steps to prevent mosquito bites while outdoors, including using an effective repellent against mosquitoes, avoiding the outdoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitos are most active, and wearing long pants and sleeves to cover exposed skin.”

EEE is one of three mosquito-transmitted diseases present in New Hampshire, including West Nile Virus (WNV) and Jamestown Canyon virus (JCV), and was first identified in the State in August of 2004. Since 2004, there have been 15 human infections with EEE identified in NH; the last human case of EEE in NH was in 2014, when there were three cases. There have been no EEE infections identified yet this season in humans.

Any horse that resides in or travels to New Hampshire during mosquito season is at risk of becoming infected with EEE, WNV or JCV. Because of this risk, it is recommended that horse owners consult with their veterinarians to discuss appropriate vaccination schedules based on their risk factors.

Symptoms of EEE virus usually appear 4 to 10 days after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the EEE virus. People who get sick from EEE can develop a flu-like illness, including fever, headache, weakness, and muscle and joint pains. A more serious central nervous system infection can develop such as meningitis and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). EEE typically causes a more serious disease than WNV and carries a high mortality rate for those who contract the serious encephalitic form of the illness. There is no specific treatment for the disease.

Prevention guidelines for EEE and other arboviruses can be found below. Anyone with questions about arboviruses, including EEE, can call the New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496. Fact Sheets on Easter Equine Encephalitis and other arboviruses are available on the DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/fact-sheets.htm. For more information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov.

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Prevention Guidelines for West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis

1. Eliminate standing water and other mosquito breeding locations.

In warm weather, mosquitoes can breed in any puddle that lasts more than 4 days!

  • Remove old tires from your property.
  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or other containers. Don't overlook containers that have become overgrown by aquatic vegetation.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outside.
  • Make sure roof gutters are clean and draining properly.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools and hot tubs. If not in use, keep empty and covered and keep covers free of standing water.
  • Aerate garden ponds or stock them with fish.
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and change water in birdbaths at least twice weekly.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use.
  • Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their properties.

2. Be aware of where mosquitoes live and breed and keep them from entering your home.

  • Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Weeds, tall grass, and bushes provide an outdoor home for the adult Culex pipiens mosquito (the common northern house mosquito), which is most commonly associated with West Nile virus.
  • Mosquitoes can enter homes through unscreened windows or doors, or broken screens. Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace all screens in your home that have tears or holes.
  • Resting mosquitoes can often be flushed from indoor resting sites by using sweeping motions under beds, behind bedside tables etc. and once in flight, exterminated prior to sleeping at night.

3. Protect yourself from mosquito bites.

  • If outside during evening, nighttime, and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, children and adults should wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks.
  • Consider the use of an effective insect repellent, such as one containing DEET. Repellent containing 30% or less DEET (N,N-diethyl-methyl-meta-toluamide) are recommended for use by children and adults. Use DEET according to the manufacturer's directions. Children should not apply DEET to themselves. Repellents that contain Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus have also been determined to be effective.
  • Vitamin B, ultrasonic devices, incense, and bug zappers have not been shown to be effective in preventing mosquito bites.

For more information on West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis, visit the Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus web page.

 
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