BURLINGTON — Mosquito pools in Cornwall, Brandon and Milton tested positive this week for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) at the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory.
“This should serve as a reminder that no matter where you live, you should continue to take actions to avoid mosquito-borne illness,” said Erica Berl, infectious disease epidemiologist for the Vermont Health Department. “Local frosts and cool temperatures can reduce the risk for infection, but the risk will not be eliminated until there’s a widespread hard frost.”
The detection of the EEE virus in Milton is the first ever in Chittenden County. EEE is an extremely rare but potentially fatal viral disease spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Active mosquito surveillance is conducted in parts of Addison and Rutland counties, with much more limited surveillance in parts of Franklin and Chittenden counties.
The mosquito pool in Milton also tested positive for West Nile virus. One human case of West Nile virus was reported in Lamoille County in August. About 20 percent of people with West Nile virus experience a flu-like illness, and fewer than 1 percent develop a more severe illness that affects the nervous system.
Horses, llamas, alpacas and emus can also become ill with EEE. There is a vaccine that is licensed for horses that can also be used in these other species. There is also a horse vaccine for WNV. Owners should make sure their animals are current on their vaccinations.
There is no EEE or WNV vaccine for humans. The best way to fight the diseases is to avoid mosquito bites and reduce breeding grounds for mosquitoes.