WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Health Department is warning people to protect themselves from mosquito bites after two cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) have been confirmed in the county.
Recent testing in the local sentinel chicken flock confirmed two positive samples 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, and can be fatal.
“There is no cure and no vaccine for people available right now, so people need to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites,” New Hanover County Health Director David Rice said in a news release. “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.”
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.
Ways to eliminate mosquito breeding and reduce the risk of mosquito-borne disease include:
-Remove any containers that can hold water, even a small amount, including saucers under flower pots
-Check tarps, buckets, kid’s toys, trash cans, under decks, wheel barrels, kayaks/canoes, boats, pools, pipes, etc. for standing water and eliminate the potential for these items to hold water
-Store out of service or unmounted tires under cover so as to prevent the collection of any water
-Change the water in bird baths and pet bowls at least twice a week
-Keep gutters clean and in good repair
-Repair leaky outdoor faucets
-When possible, drain any standing water on your property such as puddles and ditches that hold water for more than a few days after rain
-Make sure rain barrels have tight-fitting screens or lids
-Use screened windows and doors and make sure screens fit tightly and are not torn