New Hanover Co. reports error in positive Equine Encephalitis case at Fort Fisher

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Mosquito (Photo: Pixnio)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Earlier this week, New Hanover County Public Health reported a positive sample of Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV) in a local mosquito pool at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach based on information provided by the state.

On Thursday, the state informed New Hanover County Public Health that the CDC lab made a clerical mistake in the mosquito pooling report that was sent to the county, and the positive pool was not a Culex nigripalpus mosquito species pool at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach, but was actually a Culiseta melanura mosquito species pool at the Marathon trap in North Castle Hayne.

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This updated information should ease public concerns because the Culiseta melanura mosquito species bites birds almost exclusively, and rarely bites humans. Birds are a main reservoir for EEE transmission, which is how it was likely transmitted and then found within the sample. In addition, the Marathon mosquito trap is along a stream deep in the woods with little human population.

Horse farms in the North Castle Hayne area are encouraged to be proactive and ensure their horses have received the EEE vaccine. The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommends horses be vaccinated annually, at a minimum and additional information about EEE in horses can be found here. 

The county has updated the online press release with this information.

New Hanover County Public Health’s Mosquito Control division monitors mosquito activity throughout the county, including coastal areas, and helps control the mosquito population through active surveillance, community education, larviciding to target larvae in breeding environments, and targeted ultra-low volume spraying to kill adult mosquitos based on surveillance data with EPA-registered pesticide approved for public health use in urban environments.

“In addition to this positive sample in trapped mosquitos in New Hanover County, Eastern Equine Encephalitis has also recently been found in a horse in Pender County and one in Brunswick County,” said Public Health Director David Howard. “While human incidence of EEEV is rare, it is a dangerous viral infection that can cause severe disease, so residents should protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. First and foremost, eliminate all standing water regularly by “tipping and tossing” as only a small amount of water can breed mosquitos, also use EPA approved insect repellent according to labeling instructions. Other options include wearing long sleeves and pants, and limiting outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are known to be most active.”

New Hanover County Mosquito Control continuously monitors mosquito activity throughout the county, and is increasing surveillance and control in the Kure Beach area, including planned mosquito spraying this evening, Monday, September 13, beginning at 6 p.m.

To report mosquito activity or concerns, and sign up for spraying alerts, visit here.