MAYVILLE - The Chautauqua County Department of Health & Human Services is again urging residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and protect themselves from potential exposure to the mosquito-borne illnesses West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. The DHHS, Public Health Division, has received notification from the New York State Department of Health Arbovirus Laboratory of additional EEE and WNV positive mosquito pools in southern Chautauqua County.
"Seven out of nine mosquito pools collected between July 29 and August 9 have now been confirmed positive for the EEE and West Nile Virus," said Christine Schuyler, Director of CCDHHS. "These additional positive tests further emphasize the need to be vigilant about protecting oneself from mosquito bites because these mosquitoes could potentially cause serious illness," added Schuyler.
People are urged to follow these precautions to defend against mosquito bites:
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a rare illness in humans, but often a deadly disease with a 33 percent death rate. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and can affect humans, birds, horses and other mammals. Most people bitten by an infected mosquito will not develop any signs; however, of those who do, symptoms usually appear 4 to 10 days later. Signs of EEE infection begin with a sudden headache, high fever, chills and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, coma or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). It causes death in most cases; however, some people will survive the infection and have mild to severe brain damage for life. There is no specific treatment for EEE; care is based on symptoms. While people of all ages are at risk for EEE infection, children under age 15 and adults over age 50 have the greatest risk for contracting the severe disease.
West Nile Virus is also a mosquito-borne infection that can cause illness and occasionally death. Symptoms of the WNV usually develop within 3 to 14 days after exposure; however, it may take up to three weeks for signs to appear in those with weakened immune systems. Many people who contract WNV do not experience any type of illness; an estimated 20 percent of people who become infected will develop mild symptoms, including fever, headache, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea and possibly a skin rash or swollen lymph glands. The person's health usually improves after several days, but they may feel tired, weak and generally unwell for weeks. Less than 1 percent of people infected will develop severe symptoms that affect the central nervous system. These include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma, or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). Most people will recover completely from WNV, even from a severe infection, although in rare cases, death can occur. While people of all ages are at risk for WNV infection, adults age 50 and older and people with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and organ transplants are at the greatest risk of developing serious symptoms.
There is no commercially available human vaccine for either WNV or EEE. The best way to protect yourself is to keep mosquitoes from biting you. EEE and WNV vaccines are available for horses in consultation with a veterinarian.
For more information on West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, visit: www.myhealthy.county.com, www.health.ny.gov/diseases/west-nile-virus/fact-sheet.htm, www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/eastern-equine-encephalitis/fact-sheet.htm.