EEE and West Nile Virus return to Connecticut

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Yale Daily News

Scientists from Connecticut identified mosquitoes with West Nile virus and others with eastern equine encephalitis in early August.

Researchers at Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) identified the first mosquito sample to test positive for the West Nile virus on July 8. Since then, 141 mosquitoes have been identified with West Nile virus (WNV), resulting in six human cases of the virus. The first mosquito to test positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) was caught on August 3 at Stonington High School, followed by a second mosquito collected in Hampton on August 12.

“Both West Nile Virus and Triple E can cause neuroinvasive disease,” said Philip Armstrong, director of the Connecticut Mosquito and Arbovirus Surveillance Program. “Some people may develop a mild flu-like illness or no symptoms and make full recovery without medical attention. But for the people who develop neuroinvasive disease, it is a very serious disease. ”

Joseph Vinetz, professor at the Yale School of Medicine, described the symptoms of electrical and electronic equipment in more detail. He explained that about 2 percent of infected adults and about 2 to 7 percent of infected children could develop encephalitis, a form of inflammation in the brain. Once these neurological symptoms begin, the patient’s condition deteriorates rapidly. He estimated that about 90 percent of people with severe electrical and electronic equipment cases would become comatose, while half could develop seizures that indicate a brain dysfunction.

While no cases of electrical and electronic equipment in humans were reported in Connecticut this year, Vinetz and Armstrong identified the populations that would be most at risk. Armstrong stated that all age groups are prone to the disease, while Vinetz mentioned that young children and older adults are even more at risk of developing neurological sequelae after exposure to electrical and electronic equipment.

“Last year we had an unprecedented Triple E outbreak in the area, and that included four cases in people in Connecticut,” said Armstrong. “Three of the four were deaths and the fourth person developed very debilitating symptoms and is still recovering. But as far as the disease goes, it really is of all ages, unlike the West Nile Virus … which tends to affect older people more. “

Joseph Fauver, a postdoctoral fellow studying arboviruses at the School of Public Health, described how people can protect themselves from EEE and WNV mosquitoes this fall.

He mentioned that the most effective way to reduce the risk of contracting either virus is to prevent exposure to mosquito bites.

“Wear long-sleeved clothing … wear EPA registered insect repellants such as DEET and reduce the number of mosquito breeding sites in your home,” Fauver wrote in an email to the News.

Armstrong added that people should limit exposure to shady, wooded areas and swamps between dusk and dawn, especially when the mosquitoes are most active.

Although CAES continues to detect samples of the West Nile virus in their collections, Armstrong insisted that the public needn’t worry. He mentioned that due to the drought in Connecticut this year, much of the EEE virus activity has been curtailed compared to the 2019 cycle. In addition, the end of the mosquito season is in sight, indicating a declining risk of WNV transmission.

“What you really need is this hard frost, this deadly frost that turns things off. It’s usually some time in October, ”said Armstrong.

The most common type of mosquito that carries electrical and electronic equipment is Culiseta melanura.

Sydney Gray | sydney.gray@yale.edu

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