A third Connecticut resident has died of EEE. CDC
A third Connecticut resident has died of EEE. CDC

An East Haddam resident is the third person in Connecticut to die of Eastern equine encephalitis, health officials said Tuesday.

A fourth person – a Colchester resident between the ages of 40 and 49 – has been diagnosed with the disease and is hospitalized. An unusually long, warmer summer may be triggering the spread of the mosquito-borne illness, experts have said.

The East Haddam resident was between the ages of 60 and 69. Two others – a person from East Lyme and a resident of Old Lyme – died in September. Officials said they both were elderly.

“Sadly, this has been an unprecedented year for EEE activity in Connecticut,” said Matthew Cartter, the state epidemiologist. “We have had four human cases of EEE, three of which were fatal … All four residents live in a part of eastern Connecticut where EEE activity has not been a problem before this summer.”

While the disease has been most prevalent in Southeastern Connecticut, mosquitos in South Windsor recently tested positive for EEE. Town and school officials across the state have been canceling or rescheduling after-hours activities, sports practices and games.

About one-third of the people who contract EEE die, experts say, and about half of those who survive have significant brain damage.

Symptoms include high fever, headache, fatigue, nausea and neck stiffness.

State leaders are advising people to stay inside during the early evening and at dusk, to wear protective clothing and to use insect repellant. The Connecticut Department of Transportation has posted warnings about the disease on electronic highway signs.

A group of lawmakers last week asked Gov. Ned Lamont to expand the state’s use of pesticides in places with high EEE activity.

Environmental workers in several Eastern Connecticut towns sprayed pesticides over the summer, and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has done ground spraying in some areas with high concentrations of mosquitos, including at Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown.

Nationally, at least 28 people have been infected with the disease in 2019, ABC News reported. That’s more than any year since the CDC began keeping track and exceeds the previous record of 21 cases in 2005.

Deaths have occurred in Michigan, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Jenna is CT Mirror’s Health Reporter, focusing on health access, affordability, quality, equity and disparities, social determinants of health, health system planning, infrastructure, processes, information systems, and other health policy. Before joining CT Mirror Jenna was a reporter at The Hartford Courant for 10 years, where she consistently won statewide and regional awards. Jenna has a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University and a Bachelor or Arts degree in Journalism from Grand Valley State University.

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  1. I am not sure what the best response should be. I understand an individual bat eats 1,000+ mosquitos each night, and that dragonflies also eat mosquitos. I think we should be restoring bat habitat and encouraging their populations to grow to help us with this problem. Spraying pesticides seems like a bad idea that will have unwanted environmental consequences. It was not long ago that Rachel Carson published Silent Spring about exactly this impulse, and she was aided in delivering that message by Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff. What pesticides are lawmakers asking to spray? What do they do? What are some of the potential side-effects of spraying them? Is there a less toxic, more integrated, environmentally sound approach to dealing with this problem? Moreover, what’s driving the increase in mosquito-borne disease? Are we doing anything to address the bigger problems that are causing the smaller problems that we want to douse with poison?

  2. As usual state not doing anything. Lazy & stupid. New biotechnology out that would reduce mosquito pops. Pesticides not the way to go but because our state is always reactive & not proactive, the victims increase. All this tech is on utube. Face it pesticides are likely to lead to cancers or sclerotic diseases. Biotech includes: bat farms, predator insect releases (mantids, dragonflies, assasin bugs, jewel wasps), gene therapy, bacteria/viral/fungal pathogens that only affect mosquitos, larvacide disks, trout stocking, lizards, male insect sterilization by autoclave radiation. This biotech stuff is how Switzerland eliminated rabies from the NATURAL reservoir of wildlife. By the way, encephalitis is a brain virus akin to the same family as rabies & measles. As usual politicians doing nothing.

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