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August 29. 2012 11:17PM

State's first presence of EEE detected in Sandown

The Eastern equine encephalitis virus, a far more dangerous mosquito-borne illness than West Nile virus, has been detected in the central Rockingham County town of Sandown, officials said.

The presence is the first in the state this season, said Kris Neilsen, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services. The state received the test results Wednesday, and a Sandown official said spraying will take place on Sunday, Sept. 2.

“This is a much more serious illness,” Neilsen said. “It just underscores the need for people to take precautions.”

This summer, New Hampshire and much of the nation has been on the alert for West Nile virus. The virus has been found in mosquito pools in several communities. One Manchester resident recovered after being diagnosed with the disease.

Despite the concern, the disease is not as dangerous as EEE. Most people don't even know when they get West Nile virus, and of those who do develop infections, only 1 in 150 become serious. Older people are at a higher risk.

However, one third of people who develop encephalitis from EEE end up dying, and others suffer brain damage. It infects any group of people, and two New Hampshire residents died of EEE in 2005.

It was last detected in New Hampshire in 2010, when a horse was infected.

Sandown Selectman Chairman Stephen Brown said notices went up this week about the positive test. The town of 6,000 contracts with Dragon Mosquito Control to control mosquitoes.

“They test all the time. We don't spray unless dangerous mosquitoes are found,” Brown said.

Spraying will take place at four sites in town: Sandown North School, Sandown Central School, the Ray Miller Recreation Center and the Garvey Recreation Center.

Spraying will take place from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., and the buildings will not open until the following morning, Brown said.

Health officials urge people to take preventive measures against mosquito bites, such as dumping out any standing water, keeping screens in good repair, using proper bug repellent, and wearing long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk hours.

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Mark Hayward may be reached at mhayward@unionleader.com.


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