FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2006
Exeter , NH - District 23 State Senator Maggie Hassan today urged residents of Southeastern New Hampshire to take precautions against Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Testing results issued this week by the State’s Health and Human Service Department (DHHS) indicated an increase in the presence of mosquitoes carrying the disease in the Southeastern part of the state.
“The best protection against the disease is to prevent mosquito bites by applying insect repellent, wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants, and avoiding being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is at its peak,” said Senator Hassan. “Experts recommend using repellent containing 30 % or less DEET, although there are alternative repellents that contain picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus,” she added.
State officials confirmed on Thursday that six mosquito pools that were sampled last week tested positive for EEE, indicating the numbers of mosquitoes carrying the disease has likely increased. State and local officials, including Senator Hassan, met on Thursday to discuss the DHHS recommendations that eleven communities in Southeastern New Hampshire initiate spraying to reduce the adult mosquito population in the next several days. The eleven communities at greatest risk, as identified by DHHS, are Newton, Plaistow, Kingston, East Kingston, South Hampton, Danville, Brentwood, Fremont, Sandown, Hampstead, and Atkinson. State officials also said that towns within a ten mile radius of the eleven identified communities might also want to consider spraying.
During the meeting of state and local health officials, numerous questions were asked about the safety of the pesticides used to kill adult mosquitoes. Officials emphasized that application of pesticides must be done by licensed personnel and only after permits are approved by the State Department of Agriculture. Studies conducted on the effect of spraying in highly populated communities have shown that they do not have adverse health effects. DHHS officials also noted that special efforts are made to avoid treating organic farms or other ecologically sensitive areas.
In addition to taking personal protection measures, Senator Hassan also urged residents to check that their homes’ screens are in good condition, remove standing water hazards, and treat bird baths and swimming pools with chlorine on a regular basis.
“So far this year, New Hampshire hasn’t had a reported human case of EEE and we hope to keep it that way,” said Hassan. Symptoms of EEE vary, but when it infects the central nervous system it can include a sudden high fever (103 to 106 degrees), severe headache, and stiff neck, sometimes followed by seizures and coma. There have been three human cases of the disease reported in Massachusetts this year. There is no treatment for the disease other than management of symptoms.
The Department of Health and Human Services has a EEE and West Nile Virus information line at 1-866-273-6453 and also posts information on its website, www.dhhs.nh.gov.