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EEE virus detected in mosquitoes in Grand Isle - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

EEE virus detected in mosquitoes in Grand Isle

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GRAND ISLE, Vt. -

"You gotta be careful, especially around dusk. They like phew, swarm, just jump all over you. Go inside and stay out of it," said Margie Wright of Grand Isle.

Wright worried Eastern Equine Encephalitis would make its way to Grand Isle County. And now it has. Tests show mosquitoes trapped June 17 carried the virus. It's the earliest EEE has ever been found in the Northeast.

"Part of why we might be seeing it earlier is that we are doing more surveillance earlier," said Erica Berl of the Vermont Department of Health.

EEE and West Nile virus have both been found in Vermont over the last several summers in several counties. West Nile and EEE are carried by infected mosquitoes and can be spread to humans, horses, llamas and alpacas through mosquito bites. People who get ill usually get flu-like symptoms. But EEE can be deadly, like it was two years ago in Vermont.

"It makes me nervous and yet it makes me understand more kind of my place in the universe. That it's not that secure," said Riki Moss of Grand Isle.

"In 2012, the first time we detected it in people, we had two human fatalities," Berl said.

Since then, no Vermonters have been infected with EEE.

"So we take it very seriously, but it still remains relatively a rare disease," Berl explained.

The state has done aerial and ground spraying of insecticide aimed at reducing the threat in problem areas. But the health department says it's impossible to kill every mosquito. And the threat will linger until after a few killing frosts later in the fall.

"And it only takes one bite," Wright said.

She won't be taking any chances.

"People could die from it, horses could die from it. Yeah, it's very serious. So, I suggest everybody put on their OFF, you know," Wright said.

Using an insect repellent can help, because your best defense is protecting yourself from bites.

If you are bitten by an infected mosquito, look for the signs of sickness.

"When you start to worry is if there are signs and symptoms that your nervous system has been affected and that could be serve headaches, stiff neck, mental confusions," Berl said.

There are some ways to protect yourself:

  • Cover up with long sleeves
  • Wear pants
  • Avoid the outdoors during dusk and dawn; that's when mosquitoes are most active
  • Wear a good insect repellent

Click here for more information and tips on preventing mosquito bites.

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