Vermonters Urged to Take Precautions Against Mosquitoes
Grace Weatherby
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

Vermonters Urged to Take Precautions Against Mosquitoes

Vermont Department of Health is urging Vermonters to take proper steps to protect themselves against mosquito bites, as mosquitoes in Grand Isle and Franklin Counties have tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) — a serious and potentially fatal mosquito-transmitted infection. These are the first detections of EEE in mosquitoes in Vermont since 2015. 

EEE is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. The risk of infection is highest from late summer into fall. After being infected, it takes four to 10 days to develop symptoms. Most people infected with EEE will have no or mild symptoms, such as fever, chills, fatigue, joint and body aches. However, while rare, EEE can result in severe illness—including encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. EEE is fatal in about one-third of people who develop severe EEE disease, and many who recover are left with disabilities. People with symptoms or who suspect exposure are encouraged to contact their health care provider as soon as they feel sick.

While there is no specific treatment or human vaccine for EEE, there are simple efforts you can make to protect yourself and family against mosquito bites. These include:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors. Ideally, you should spray clothes with permethrin or DEET and let them dry before wearing.
  • Apply Skin So Soft to any skin not covered by clothing.
  • Limit your time outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are more likely to bite.
  • Use insect repellent labelled as effective against mosquitoes. The EPA has a tool to help find the right repellent for you. These can also protect you from tick bites. 
  • Get rid of standing water in places like gutters, tires, play pools, flowerpots and birdbaths. Mosquitoes breed in water that has been standing for more than four days.
  • Cover strollers and outdoor playpens with mosquito netting.
  • Fix holes in screens and make sure they tightly attach to doors and windows.

In addition, people are asked to remove standing water where possible to help limit places where mosquito larvae can hatch and grow into adults. You can eliminate mosquito-breeding sites by emptying standing water from flowerpots, buckets, barrels and other containers. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their side when not being used.

 

Dr. Marie George, MD is an Infectious Disease Specialist in Southwestern Vermont Healthcare in Bennington, VT

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