Maine Issues Warning Amid Region's Growing Number Of Dangerous Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

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ME health officials are warning about an active season for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a potentially fatal mosquito-borne disease. Additionally, it was detected in seven horses and found in 366 mosquito samples, state health authorities said.

ME has not seen an EEE case involving a human since 2015.

"We have had multiple positive tests for mosquito-transmitted viruses already this season in New Hampshire, and risk for human infection is likely to increase through the rest of the summer and fall", said Dr. Benjamin Chan, NH State Epidemiologist. Health officials say that humans rarely become infected, but if they do, the illness is serious and can be fatal due to brain inflammation.

While there have been no reported cases of either disease in Maine so far this year, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is advising residents and visitors to wear insect repellant, long sleeves and trousers, and to empty any pools of standing water where mosquitos might breed. If outdoor activity is unavoidable, take personal precautions to prevent mosquito bites by following these tips.

The virus can also affect specialty livestock, such as llamas, alpacas, emus, ostriches, and other farm-raised birds, such as pheasants, quail and ducks. In horses, the symptoms include stumbling or poor balance, unusual behavior and lethargy. In some animal species, the first signs of the disease can be bloody diarrhea or sudden death.

State health officials urged people to stay indoors from dusk until dawn and use mosquito repellent when outdoors. Wearing long-sleeves, long trousers and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

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Vaccination is the best way to prevent the disease.

State officials told the Globe that MA is now starting a new, intense cycle of EEE activity that will likely persist for two to three years. No human vaccine against EEE and WNV infection is available.

According to the Bureau of Infectious Diseases and Laboratory Sciences, about half of those who contract EEE die while most survivors suffer with permanent disability.

There is no known treatment for EEE.

The CDC says there are two kinds of infections that show symptoms after a four- to 10-day incubation period: A systemic infection is abrupt, lasting a week or two with chills, fever, malaise, and joint or muscle pain.

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