New Hampshire Identifies First Positive EEE Test

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The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) today announced the first positive test this year for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE). An emu from the town of Barnstead tested positive for the disease. This is the first sign of EEE in New Hampshire this year; EEE was first identified in the State in 2004.

"This finding reinforces the fact that EEE is once again here in New Hampshire," stated DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. "We are reminding anyone planning to spend any time outside to take a few simple steps to protect you and your loved ones from this disease; use effective insect repellant and try to wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active."

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Because of the increased risk of disease to people, DHHS is expanding its public health threat to include the towns of Strafford, Pittsfield, Barnstead, Alton, Epsom, Chichester and Gilmanton in the current public health threat, which includes Rockingham, Eastern Hillsborough, Southern Merrimack, and Southern Strafford Counties. This public health threat designation is in order to help provide financial assistance for control efforts in communities working to combat EEE and WNV.

"Even though EEE is a rare disease," said Dr. Jose T. Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS, "it can be very serious for those who contract the serious encephalitis form of the illness. However, the only way someone can be infected with EEE is to be bitten by an infected mosquito so the best thing you can do is to avoid being bitten in the first place."

This positive test of EEE comes just one week after the State identified its first positive test of West Nile Virus (WNV). Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Symptoms of EEE may include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, and sore throat. There is not treatment for the disease, which can lead to seizures and coma. Symptoms usually occur 4 to 10 days after being bitten.

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