NH Dept. of Health and Human Services confirms first human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis since 2009
A Conway resident has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, commonly referred to as EEE, the Department of Health and Human Services announced last night. This is the first human case confirmed by the department since 2009.
Five batches of mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus so far this season, the department said: two from Derry, two from Candia and one, first announced last week, from Londonderry. Last year, there were 27 confirmed cases of EEE in New Hampshire – three animals and 24 mosquito batches, according to the department.
HHS was not able to provide additional details about the medical condition of the person who tested positive for EEE.
New Hampshire Public Health Director Dr. José Montero urged residents to take the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses like EEE and West Nile seriously at all times and not just in light of this recent case.
“Mosquito prevention should happen not today or for this weekend,” Montero said. “It should happen the whole season.”
That kind of prevention should include regular use of mosquito repellant, Montero said – especially during dawn and dusk, the times of day when the insects are thought to be most prevalent. Additional precautions could include avoiding outdoor activity during those times, wearing long-sleeved or other protective clothing, ensuring windows are screened off and avoiding areas with standing water where mosquitoes might congregate, Montero said.
Both EEE and West Nile are spread predominantly through mosquitoes and birds, Montero said, but the former is generally rarer and more severe. Sometimes, he said, someone might have West Nile and not even notice it because its symptoms can be mild.
EEE, on the other hand, can be fatal and does not have a specific treatment, according to the health department. It can present flu-like symptoms in those who are infected – including a “high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, and sore throat” – and can occasionally result in seizures or coma, according to the department.
Those who suspect they might have EEE or West Nile should immediately contact a medical provider, Montero said.
Montero emphasized that residents should assume EEE and West Nile virus are always risks this time of year.
“This is not just a New Hampshire exclusive,” Montero said. “We have the same situation in other New England states.”
(Casey McDermott can be reached at 369-3306 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @caseymcdermott.)