CONTACT:
DHHS -- Public Information Office, 603-271-4957
NH Fish and Game -- Liza Poinier, 603-271-3211
September 12, 2005

Outdoors Enthusiasts: Stay Alert to Risk of EEE

Concord, NH - The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department are joining forces to remind outdoor enthusiasts such as hunters, anglers, and hikers about the dangers of Eastern Equine Encephalitis or EEE. Simple precautions can protect people from EEE, which this year has infected five New Hampshire residents. A woman from Newton recently died from the disease. 32 birds and 6 horses have tested positive for the virus this season.

Hunters, hikers and anglers often frequent regions with high mosquito populations, such as wetlands and wooded areas, and should take precautions against mosquitoes that might be infected with EEE and West Nile virus. DHHS recommends the use of an effective mosquito repellant -- one that contains DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Outdoors enthusiasts should also wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors, and hunters should wear gloves when handling dead birds. Fish and Game staff are working to get the word out to hunters and anglers by sending an announcement to the Department's "e-news" list; providing information on the Fish and Game website; and connecting people with the toll-free EEE and West Nile Virus hotline (1-866-273-6453) established by DHHS.

"It's a popular time of year to be out hunting or fishing, and simple measures can protect you from EEE and other insect-borne illnesses," said Lee Perry, Executive Director of NH Fish and Game. "If you're on the water or in the field this fall, just remember to cover up and use mosquito repellant. Keep an extra bottle in your backpack or tackle box."

"We know EEE is in New Hampshire and we know it is a dangerous disease," said DHHS Commissioner John Stephen. "We hope that people will continue to hunt and fish and enjoy New Hampshire's wildlife -- just take care to protect yourself from mosquitoes. The mosquito season will continue until we see frost across the state. Until that time, use good prevention -- it works."

EEE is a mosquito-borne illness that begins with flu-like symptoms of fever and malaise, but often also results in severe headaches and neurological symptoms. In the disease's severe form, it is fatal in about one third of cases. In roughly another third of the cases, the patient lives, but is left with neurological side effects.

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Prevention Guidelines for West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis
NH Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services

1. Eliminate standing water and other mosquito breeding locations.
In warm weather, mosquitoes can breed in any puddle that lasts more than 4 days!

  • Remove old tires from your property.
  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or other containers. Don't overlook containers that have become overgrown by aquatic vegetation.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outside.
  • Make sure roof gutters are clean and draining properly.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools and hot tubs. If not in use, keep empty and covered and keep covers free of standing water.
  • Aerate garden ponds or stock them with fish.
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and change water in birdbaths at least twice weekly.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use.
  • Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their properties.

2. Be aware of where mosquitoes live and breed and keep them from entering your home.

  • Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Weeds, tall grass, and bushes provide an outdoor home for the adult Culex pipiens mosquito (the common northern house mosquito), which is most commonly associated with West Nile virus.
  • Mosquitoes can enter homes through unscreened windows or doors, or broken screens. Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace all screens in your home that have tears or holes.
  • Resting mosquitoes can often be flushed from indoor resting sites by using sweeping motions under beds, behind bedside tables etc. and once in flight, exterminated prior to sleeping at night.

3. Protect yourself from mosquito bites.

  • If outside during evening, nighttime, and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active and likely to bite, children and adults should wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks.
  • Consider the use of an effective insect repellent, such as one containing DEET. A repellent containing 10% or less DEET (N,N-diethyl-methyl-meta-toluamide) for children, and no more than 30% DEET for adults. Use DEET according to the manufacturer's directions. Children should not apply DEET to themselves. Repellents that contain Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus have also been determined to be effective.
  • Vitamin B, ultrasonic devices, incense, and bug zappers have not been shown to be effective in preventing mosquito bites.

For more information on West Nile Virus, call the NH Department of Health and Human Services toll-free West Nile Virus Information Line at 1-866-273-NILE (6453), or visit the West Nile Virus Website at www.dhhs.nh.gov.

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