WILMINGTON, NC (NEWS RELEASE) — The New Hanover County Health Department encourages people to protect themselves from mosquito bites and the risk of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Recent testing in the local sentinel chicken flock confirmed a positive sample of EEE in New Hanover County. This raises concerns about the mosquito-borne disease making its way into the human and equine populations.
“Human incidence of EEE is rare, but it is a dangerous disease. There is no cure and no vaccine for people available right now, so people need to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites,” stated David Rice, New Hanover County Health Director. “Minimize unprotected outdoor exposure at dawn and dusk, the times during the day when mosquito activity peaks as they search aggressively for blood meals. Protective measures include applying insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.”
Though rare in humans, when it does occur, EEE is a very serious illness and can be fatal. The young and elderly populations are at greatest risk. Survivors of EEE infections may suffer from long-term brain damage. Therapy is limited to treating the symptoms of the disease, as there is no specific cure and no available vaccine for humans. Horse cases are almost always fatal. A preventive vaccine is available, and effective for horses if administered before the animal is bitten by infected mosquitoes. Vaccinations should be administered by a licensed veterinarian to assure that viable vaccine is utilized and injections are properly administered.
Ways to eliminate mosquito breeding and reduce the risk of mosquito-borne disease include:
• Cover rain barrels have tight-fitting screens;
• Change the water in bird baths and pet bowls at least twice a week;
• Empty or remove any other containers that hold even a small amount of water including saucers under flower pots;
• Store out of service or unmounted tires under cover so as to prevent the collection of any water;
• Keep gutters clean and in good repair;
• Repair leaky outdoor faucets; and,
• Use tightly screened doors and windows.
For additional information regarding the use of repellents see these Web sites: