Eastern Equine Encephalitis Causes One Death in Vermont

Sep 5, 2012

One of two people in Vermont infected with the mosquito-borne virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis has died.
The Vermont Health Department says 87-year-old Richard H. Breen of Brandon, who once served as head of the Vermont Principals' Association, is the state's first victim of Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

This is the first time Vermont has had human cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis - generally known as Triple-E. Vermont Health Department Infectious Disease Epidemiologist Erica Berl explains that it’s a viral disease carried by mosquitoes.

Fletcher Allen Health Care Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Cindy Noyes says EEE tends to live in mosquitoes and birds.  Humans and horses are incidental hosts that are infected when bitten by an infected mosquito.  Dr. Noyes says, however, that the disease in humans is rare.

Vermont Health and Agriculture officials plan to spray pesticides later this week in the Brandon-Whiting area to control mosquitoes carrying EEE and West Nile Virus. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture does the surveillance and management of the mosquito pools and control programs.  Ag Resource Management Division Director Jim Leland says this is the only spraying planned at this time.

Officials are reminding Vermonters to avoid mosquito bites by doing things like wearing long sleeves and pants, avoiding outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are active,  getting rid of standing water, and using appropriate repellents.  Again, Dr. Cindy Noyes.

About one third of people with severe EEE illness die from the disease. This also the first year Triple-E has been confirmed in Western Massachusetts.