Infected mosquitos in Maine
Maine health officials have confirmed that a pool of mosquitos collected on July 16, 2013, in the town of Alfred tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). A health alert issued by the Maine Center for Disease Control states that “This is the earliest in the season that Maine has identified EEE, previously the earliest detection was in the beginning of August.”
Last year, a flock of pheasants raised on a farm in Lebanon, Maine died of EEE. A Cumberland County man also became Maine’s first-ever documented human case of West Nile virus, which is also spread by mosquitos.
As we hear more and more about mosquitos causing EEE and West Nile virus, it’s easy to become confused about the two infections. Both are viruses carried by mosquitos and both can infect humans, horses, and some bird species.
Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE)
- High fever (103°-106°F)
- Stiff neck
- Lack of energy
- Inflammation of the brain
The symptoms of EEE show up three to 10 days after being infected. They get worse quickly and a person may lapse into a coma within a week. People under the age of 15 and over the age of 50 are at greatest risk of developing a severe infection.
The virus itself cannot be treated. Support measures usually include lowering a high fever and reducing pressure on the brain.
EEE is rare in humans but is considered one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States. Approximately one-third of people who develop EEE die and many who survive have mild to severe brain damage.
West Nile virus
In many cases, there are no symptoms with West Nile virus. About 20 percent of infected people will have mild symptoms.
Symptoms of a mild West Nile virus infection
- Body aches
- Skin rash
- Swollen lymph glands
A small percentage of people may develop a serious infection with complications.
- Stiff neck
Symptoms of West Nile virus show up five to 15 days after infection. People with mild infections usually get better on their own. Serious complications develop in about 1 percent of those infected. At greatest risk are people over the age of 50. Other than supportive therapy, there is no specific treatment for the virus.
Reducing the risk of West Nile virus and EEE
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks when outdoors
- Use insect repellant
- Install or repair window/door screens
- Don’t go outside at dawn or dusk
- Drain standing water
In just four days, mosquitos will begin to breed in puddles or standing water. Don’t let them!
- Empty or get rid of metal cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, and other water holding containers.
- Get rid of discarded tires that may hold stagnant water —it’s a common place for mosquitoes to breed.
- Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers to let water can drain out.
- Clean clogged roof gutters.
- Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
- Don’t let water sit in birdbaths.
- Keep swimming pools clean and properly chlorinated; remove standing water from pool covers.
- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.