2013-09-12 / News

EEE found in East Bay mosquitoes

State officials announced this week that test results from two mosquito pools from traps set on Sept. 3 in Tiverton and Westerly have been confirmed positive for eastern equine encephalitis.

It is the second time this year that EEE has been positively identified in Rhode Island, although it is presumed likely to be present in other areas of the state. Both positive findings were of the Culiseta species that feeds exclusively on birds.

As a result, the state Department of Environmental Management will set extra mosquito for increased assessment.

In addition, two mosquito pools – one trapped in Tiverton and one trapped in a remote area of northwestern Hopkinton close to the Connecticut border – have been confirmed positive for Highlands J virus. The positive Highlands J results were from a species of mosquitoes that bites birds. The virus is a bird disease that doesn’t affect humans, but is an indicator that environmental conditions are appropriate for the transmission of other mosquito-borne viruses.

These findings are not unexpected at this time of the year. Test results on the remaining 103 mosquito pools from 33 traps set statewide during the week of September 3 are pending at the state Department of Health laboratory.

So far this year in Rhode Island, four pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus and three pools of mosquitoes has tested positive for EEE. There have been no reported 2013 cases of either virus in humans in Rhode Island at this time. Human cases have been reported in nearby states. There has been one confirmed case of West Nile in Massachusetts, and two deaths from West Nile in New Jersey. Vermont has had one death from EEE.

West Nile is most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes and can cause febrile illness, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). Anyone living in an area where West Nile is present in mosquitoes can get infected. EEE is one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States with approximately 33 percent mortality and significant brain damage in most survivors. Infants and the elderly are at greatest risk for serious complications. There is no specific treatment for EEE. Care is based on symptoms.

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