AUGUSTA, Maine — Three mosquito pools in York County were recently found to contain the potentially deadly Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus, according to a news release distributed Thursday by the Maine Center for Disease Control.
The discovery brings the total number of pools testing positive for the virus in 2014 to four.
The EEE virus is carried by mosquitoes and often affects horses and other large animals, such as alpacas and llamas. An emu in the Sebago Lake region of Cumberland County recently tested positive for the virus, according to the Maine CDC.
The virus is infrequently transmitted to humans, and only about 5 percent of those infected by the virus develop any symptoms. However, severe cases of EEE in people can include brain swelling that could lead to disorientation, seizures or even coma.
About one third of people who develop EEE die from the disease, according to the U.S. CDC. Others are left with permanent brain damage.
Regionally, only one case of EEE in humans has been reported, in New Hampshire. That person was treated at Maine Medical Center in Portland.
Animals can be protected from EEE by vaccination, but there is no treatment for infected humans.
Despite the relative unlikelihood of humans contracting EEE, Maine CDC is urging residents to take caution by wearing long sleeves and pants, using insect repellent, usings screens on windows and doors and draining artificial standing water near places where they live, work or play.
“EEE is a very serious illness in humans,” said Dr. Sheila Pinette, director of Maine CDC, in a prepared statement. “Mainers must be aware of the risks and take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and protect against EEE and other mosquito-borne illnesses.”
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