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Mosquito Season in Southern New England

Mosquito Season in Southern New England - EEE and WNV Have Been Detected

by Don Drake, Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. 7.10.24

Probate Rhode Island
Attorney RJ Connelly III

"As we approach a period of hot and humid weather, it's important to be aware that spending more time outdoors can increase the risk of mosquito bites," stated professional fiduciary and certified elder law Attorney RJ Connelly III. "With the reported arrival of the West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in southern New England, it's crucial to be vigilant and take appropriate precautions.'

It's important to note that while most people who contract WNV show no symptoms, young children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to the virus. WNV is known to cause mild to severe illness and, in some cases, can even lead to death. Authorities recommend preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites, particularly those in high-risk groups.

EEE is an uncommon yet highly dangerous disease that can be transmitted to humans and horses through infected mosquitoes. This virus is part of a collection of mosquito-borne illnesses that can impact the central nervous system, leading to severe complications and, in some cases, even death. The majority of EEE cases have been documented in states along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In particular, southeastern Massachusetts, specifically Plymouth and Bristol counties, has been identified as a significant area for EEE outbreaks. While instances of human infections are infrequent, outbreaks in horses are more prevalent during the summer and fall seasons.

"Based on current evidence, the probability of human infection and illness caused by WNV appears low; it's important to note that individuals aged fifty and above, especially those over 65 years old, are at a higher risk of experiencing severe complications from WNV," said Attorney Connelly. "Similarly, EEE is rare, with small human disease outbreaks occasionally occurring in the United States. This disease primarily affects young children and individuals over fifty-five, making it important for these groups to take additional precautions during mosquito season."

About West Nile Virus

West Nile virus (WNV) is a disease transmitted to humans primarily through mosquito bites. It affects humans, birds, horses, and other mammals. While WNV is not transmitted through casual contact, such as touching, kissing, or caring for an infected person, it is essential to take preventive measures against mosquito bites to reduce the risk of infection.

Probate Massachusetts
Mosquitoes are active this time of year

Most individuals infected with WNV experience no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body aches, from which they fully recover. However, in some cases, particularly among the elderly, WNV can lead to severe neurological diseases, including encephalitis, meningitis, and acute flaccid paralysis.

Symptoms of severe WNV infection may include headache, high fever, stiff neck, confusion, coma, tremors, convulsions, and muscle weakness or paralysis. In the most severe cases, WNV can cause permanent neurological damage and even death. If symptoms do appear, they typically manifest within 3 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

There is no human vaccine for WNV, but research is ongoing, and several companies are working toward developing one. There is also no specific therapy for WNV, and most individuals recover on their own. In more severe cases, intensive supportive therapy, including hospitalization, intravenous fluids and nutrition, airway management, and ventilatory support, may be necessary. Additionally, preventing secondary infections and providing proper nursing care are essential in managing severe WNV cases.

About Eastern Equine Encephalitis

EEE, or Eastern Equine Encephalitis, typically does not cause symptoms in most infected people. However, those who experience symptoms generally appear four to 10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Probate Connecticut
Chances of getting a serious illness from a bite is low

Individuals who fall ill with the EEE virus often experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, body aches, and joint pain. This illness usually lasts one to two weeks, and most individuals completely recover if the central nervous system is not involved.

In rare cases, the virus can infect the brain and spinal cord, leading to a sudden high fever ranging from 103° to 106°F, a stiff neck, and increasingly severe headaches. This can result in inflammation and swelling of the brain, a condition known as encephalitis. The progression of the disease can be rapid. Approximately one-third of those who develop encephalitis due to EEE virus infection do not survive, and among those who do, many are left with mild to severe disabilities.

Individuals over the age of fifty or under the age of fifteen are at the highest risk of developing severe disease from EEE virus infection.

Currently, there are no specific medications to prevent or treat EEE virus infections, as antibiotics are ineffective against viruses. However, rest, staying hydrated, and using over-the-counter pain medications can help alleviate some symptoms.

For individuals with severe disease, hospitalization is often necessary to receive supportive treatment such as intravenous fluids, pain management, and nursing care.

Southern New England

Massachusetts health officials have recently reported that two potentially harmful viruses, West Nile virus (WNV) and eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), have been detected in mosquitoes. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, no person or animal has yet been infected with either of these viruses.

Probate Martha's Vineyard
Standing water are mosquito breeding areas

Health officials have stated that detecting EEE in a sample collected in Carver has moderated the risk of contracting EEE in several communities, including Kingston, Middleborough, Plymouth, Plympton, and Wareham. The mosquito carrying the West Nile virus was collected in Quincy on Tuesday, June 25.

It's worth noting that six human cases of West Nile were reported in Massachusetts last year. Given the expected increase in the mosquito population throughout the summer, health officials recommend various prevention techniques, including avoiding outdoor activities during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and Rhode Island Department of Health revealed that Rhode Island recorded its first instance of mosquitoes testing positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). However, West Nile has not been detected yet. The virus was discovered in mosquitoes captured from Tiverton and Coventry on June 10. Unlike West Nile virus (WNV), which is consistently present in Rhode Island each year, the risk of EEE varies and fluctuates annually.

Probate Rhode Island
Take precautions during active mosquito hours

In Connecticut, the State of Connecticut Mosquito Management Program (MMP) has reported that mosquitoes captured in New Haven on June 17 have tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). These findings mark the first identification of WNV-positive mosquitoes in the state by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) this year. As a precautionary measure, Connecticut residents are strongly advised to take necessary steps to shield themselves from mosquito bites and mosquito-borne illnesses.

John Shepard, Medical Entomologist at the CAES, commented, "The initial identification of West Nile virus-positive mosquitoes this season is significant. It stands out as one of the earliest virus detections recorded during the 25 years of the statewide monitoring program." Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has not yet been detected this year.

Protect Yourself

To minimize the chance of mosquito bites, state health officials suggest that people living in mosquito-prone areas should:

  1. Remember to limit your time outdoors between dusk and dawn, as mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite. It's important to take precautions during these times to avoid being bitten.

  2. Inspect all your door and window screens to ensure they are securely in place and free from tears or damage. Tight-fitting screens are essential for keeping insects out and ensuring proper ventilation indoors. Regularly check the condition of the screens and promptly repair or replace any damaged ones. This will help maintain a comfortable and bug-free environment inside your home.

  3. When spending time outdoors for extended periods or when mosquitoes are particularly active, it's important to wear protective clothing. This should include shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Choose clothing in light colors of tightly woven materials that effectively keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

  4. Regularly empty out any containers such as buckets, flowerpots, toys, and other items that can collect and hold water, as these can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

  5. Regularly inspect your roof gutters to ensure they are free of leaves, dirt, and debris. It is important that the gutters are not clogged and allow water to drain properly.

  6. Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure, such as a tent or a cabin without window screens. It is also important to protect small babies outdoors where mosquitoes are active.

  7. Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent and follow the directions carefully whenever you are outdoors, especially in areas where mosquitoes are prevalent. This will help protect you from mosquito bites and reduce the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that older adults, who are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of WNV and EEE, may be less inclined to use mosquito repellent. Therefore, it is important to educate this demographic about the significance of using mosquito repellent to reduce the risk of WNV and EEE-related illnesses.

A Final Thought

"It's important to stay vigilant against mosquito-borne diseases, even though the likelihood of getting sick from a mosquito bite is low, about one in three hundred," said Attorney Connelly. "People of all ages can get the EEE virus, but those under fifteen and over fifty are at the highest risk of developing severe illness. Additionally, anyone bitten by an infected mosquito can be at risk of WNV, with those over fifty facing the highest risk of serious WNV disease. To protect yourself and your loved ones, it's important to know how to stay safe from mosquito bites and to stay informed about mosquito activity in your area."

Probate Rhode Island

Please note that the information provided in this blog is not intended to and should not be construed as legal, financial, or medical advice. The content, materials, and information presented in this blog are solely for general informational purposes and may not be the most up-to-date information available regarding legal, financial, or medical matters. This blog may also contain links to other third-party websites that are included for the convenience of the reader or user. Please note that Connelly Law Offices, Ltd. does not necessarily recommend or endorse the contents of such third-party sites. If you have any particular legal matters, financial concerns, or medical issues, we strongly advise you to consult your attorney, professional fiduciary advisor, or medical provider.

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