Deer hunters may be getting ready to head into the woods for rifle season next weekend, but November's cooler temperatures also mean the state is "out of the woods" for mosquito-borne disease.
"We think the widespread frost that we had, especially at the beginning of last week, that that should have killed off any of the adult mosquitoes that we'd be concerned about," said Erica Berl, an Epidemiologist with the Vermont Department of Health.
Berl and her colleagues are concerned about the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis -- or Triple E. Both can be fatal to horses and humans. The state conducted aerial spraying in mosquito intensive areas in northern Rutland and southern Addison counties this summer, but officials also found infected mosquito pools in Chittenden and Franklin counties. More positive pests, but fewer cases of illness. Two people died of Triple E last year, and although two horses died this year no human cases were reported. "It just was a different year. We're very happy that there were no human cases of Triple E, but clearly we know the virus is present in multiple locations in our state," Berl said.
But the colder temperatures don't mean an end to ticks, which carry Lyme disease. The adult tick season actually runs from October through June, with ticks looking to feed anytime the temperature gets above 40 degrees or so. "This is actually the time of year the adult ticks are very active. This is when people should definitely be checking themselves and their pets for ticks. And when the hunters go out they should definitely be checking themselves for ticks when they come in at the end of the day," Berl said.
Good advice as Vermonters look to steer clear of two different bug bites that could cause them harm -- and sometimes death.