Rare mosquito-borne virus puts NH resident in hospital

  • A female Aedes aegypti mosquito is shown feeding on a person. 

Monitor staff
Published: 8/18/2017 11:41:35 PM

A rare mosquito-borne disease recently put a Hanover resident in the hospital, leading health officials to remind the public that not getting bitten is the best prevention against insect-born viruses.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services on Friday announced what is only the third case of Jamestown Canyon virus to have been confirmed in New Hampshire. The Hanover resident was hospitalized but has since returned home and is recuperating, said state epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan. 

“Based on what we know about when this person’s symptoms began, we believe he probably contracted the infection in New Hampshire,” Chan said. 

Jamestown Canyon virus is found throughout the U.S. but produces few or no symptoms in most people, which makes it hard  to judge how widespread it is. Only about 50 cases have been serious enough to be reported nationally since 2000.

Like West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis, Johnson Canyon virus also has the potential to cause serious health complications, including infections of the central nervous system.

It has been found in people in New Hampshire twice before, in 2013 and late 2015.

“We don’t have a good idea about how common this infection is,” Chan said.

Deer carry the virus, and people may get exposed when bitten by any of the mosquito species that feed both on animals and humans. 

The virus has shown up more often in the past few years but Chan said that may be the result of heightened interest, making doctors more likely to consider it when facing a set of patient symptoms. 

Chan said that along with Friday’s publican announcement, the DHHS sent an alert to state health providers “to put this on their virus check along with (West Nile virus) and EEE,” which are the two most widespread mosquito-borne viruses in New Hampshire. 

Residents and visitors to New Hampshire should protect themselves and their family members by using an effective mosquito repellant that contains 30 percent DEET, wearing long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, and removing standing water from around your home so mosquitoes do not have a place to breed. Repellents with Picaridin, IR3535 and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products also provide protection against mosquito bites.

More information is available on the DHHS website at dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/documents/jamestown-canyon-virus.pdf and on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)


David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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