The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced Oct. 6, 2014, that a horse from Nottingham has been identified with the Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEE) infection. This is the first finding of EEE in a horse this year, though a mule was identified with EEE in September. The arboviral risk level for the town of Nottingham will increase from low to high. The surrounding towns of Northwood, Barrington, Lee and Epping will increase to moderate. Surrounding towns of Deerfield and Raymond will remain at moderate.
So far in 2014, 18 mosquito batches, two animals, and two humans have tested positive for EEE. There has also been one positive mosquito batch identified for West Nile virus (WNV) this season. EEE and WNV are transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. It is important that people continue to take precautions against mosquito bites, including wearing an effective repellent, long pants and sleeves, ensuring screens are in good repair and removing standing water from your property to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
“This unfortunate finding reinforces the need for residents and visitors of New Hampshire to continue to use an effective repellent when enjoying the beautiful outdoors until we have had a killing frost across the State,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan.
Any horse that resides in or travels to New Hampshire during mosquito season is at risk of becoming infected with EEE or WNV. Because of this risk, it is recommended that horse owners consult with their veterinarians to discuss appropriate vaccination schedules based on their risk factors.
EEE is a more serious disease in people than WNV and carries a high mortality rate for those who contract the serious encephalitis form of the illness. Symptoms of EEE in humans may include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck and sore throat. There is no treatment for the disease, which can in some cases lead to seizures and coma. Symptoms usually occur four to 10 days after being bitten. Symptoms of WNV disease also often appear four to 10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. If you or someone you know is experiencing flu-like symptoms, including fever and headache, contact your local medical provider.
For more information about EEE and West Nile virus visit the DHHS website at http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/arboviral/index.htm and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov. For questions contact the DHHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496.