Human Case of EEE Reported in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) today reported the first human case of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in the state this year.

According to a statement released by the department, the Newton resident was confirmed as a case through testing completed yesterday. There were no human cases of EEE in 2006 and seven cases, including two deaths, in the state in 2005.

EEE is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Horses are "dead end" hosts of the virus.

According to the equine arbovirus reports compiled by the USDA's National Animal Health Surveillance System (NAHSS), a national reporting system for equine disease, there was one case of EEE in horses in New Hampshire in 2006.

Clinical signs of EEE in horses include depression, ataxia, a sleepy appearance, circling, and recumbency. The virus causes swelling of the brain, and the mortality rate is around 90%. While there is a vaccine for EEE for use in horses, there is no vaccine for humans.

"While there is no vaccine for humans against EEE, this is a preventable illness," said State Epidemiologist Jose Montero, MD, MPH. "Prevention steps people should take include eliminating standing water in their yards, using an insect repellent when outside, and wearing long sleeves and pants when mosquitoes are biting. With the beginning of school and sports season, people can continue to enjoy the outdoors and keep physically active, but avoiding being bitten by mosquitoes should be an integral part of their activities."

The state public health lab has tested 7,215 mosquito pools, one horse, 20 birds, and 83 human samples so far this year. Positive mosquito pools in Newton and Brentwood were identified this season.

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About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

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