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New Hampshire mosquitoes determined to be carrying dangerous EEE virus

NASHUA — Pelham town officials emphasize that as of Tuesday, no local humans have been identified as carrying the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus. However, state inspectors said mosquitoes in Pelham are infected.

The EEE virus is known to cause effects such as fever and muscle pain in humans. Although there have been no human cases of the infection in New Hampshire since 2014, it should be taken seriously, according to New Hampshire Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan.

“People need to take steps to prevent mosquito bites, including avoiding being outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, wearing protective clothing, using an effective mosquito repellent on exposed skin, and removing standing water from around the home where mosquitoes reproduce,” he said.

The EEE virus is one of three mosquito-transmitted diseases present in New Hampshire, officials said, including West Nile Virus and Jamestown Canyon virus. It was first identified in the state in August 2004. Since 2004, there have been 15 human infections with EEE identified in New Hampshire; the last human case of EEE in New Hampshire was in 2014, when there were three cases. There have been no EEE infections identified yet this season in humans or animals.

“Identification of the EEE virus in mosquitoes in New Hampshire is an important reminder that mosquito bites can transmit a number of potentially serious viral infections in our communities,” Chan added.

Symptoms of EEE usually appear four to 10 days after one is being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. People who get sick from EEE can develop a flu-like sickness, including fever, headache and weakness, along with muscle and joint pains. A more serious central nervous system infection can develop such as meningitis and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

There is no specific treatment for the disease.

Some tips for protecting oneself from EEE include:

Eliminate standing water and other mosquito breeding location;

Be aware of where mosquitoes live and breed and keep them from entering the home; and

Consider using insect repellent to deter mosquitoes.

Anyone with questions about the viruses can call the New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496, or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov.