West Nile Virus declared public health threat in MHT and surrounding towns

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CONCORD, NH – Governor Christopher T. Sununu and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have issued a public health threat declaration in the southern part of the State for West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). The declaration will make it easier for the approximately 30 municipalities to take mosquito population control measures during a season with the highest number of mosquito batches testing positive for WNV in the past five years.

Symptoms of WNV usually appear within a week after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito, although many people can be infected and not develop any symptoms, or only develop very mild symptoms. Symptoms can include flu-like illness including fever, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. A very small percentage of individuals infected with WNV can go on to develop more serious central nervous system disease, including meningitis or encephalitis. If you or someone you know is experiencing flu-like symptoms, including fever and headache, contact your local medical provider.

To increase community awareness and expedite the municipal mosquito control permitting process for those jurisdictions that do not currently hold a permit, the declaration has been issued through 2018 for the following cities and towns: Amherst, Atkinson, Auburn, Bedford, Brentwood, Candia, Chester, Danville, Derry, Epping, Fremont, Goffstown, Hampstead, Hollis, Hooksett, Hudson, Kingston, Litchfield, Londonderry, Manchester, Merrimack, Nashua, Newton, Pelham, Plaistow, Raymond, Salem, Sandown and Windham.

Under the declaration, these municipalities will be able to implement mosquito population control measures including spraying after obtaining the appropriate permits. The declaration is due in part to the 16 mosquito batches that have tested positive for WNV in New Hampshire since the beginning of July: nine in Manchester, three in Nashua, and one each in Salem, Keene, North Hampton and Rye. The risk level for human illness in Manchester is now at “High” given the number of mosquito batches that have tested positive there. Additionally there have been three hawks and one crow that have tested positive in the area of the threat declaration. There have been no detections of EEE in New Hampshire yet this year.

“Based on our surveillance information, we believe there is an increased risk for human illness in the southern part of the state,” said Jeffrey A. Meyers, DHHS Commissioner. “Neighboring states have reported cases in humans, including one in Maine and four in Massachusetts. We are being proactive in New Hampshire, especially as we head into the fall, when mosquito-borne illnesses are most common.”

WNV and EEE, are arboviruses that are transmitted from the bite of an infected mosquito. Residents and visitors to New Hampshire should protect themselves and their family members by using an effective mosquito repellant that contains 30% DEET, wearing long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, and removing standing water from around your home so mosquitoes do not have a place to breed. Repellents with picaridin, IR3535 and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products also provide protection against mosquito bites.

Anyone with questions about WNV/EEE can call the New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496. More information is available on the DHHS website at https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/arboviral/index.htm and on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.