CONCORD — A mule in Candia has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), raising the risk level from "moderate" to "high" for people living there, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
The risk to residents in surrounding communities of Auburn, Chester, Hooksett and Raymond was raised form "low" to "moderate."
The mule is the first animal to test positive for EEE in New Hampshire this season, health officials said.
"This is another indicator there are EEE virus- and West Nile Virus-infected mosquitoes in the state," said DHHS Public Health Director Dr. Jose Montero. "The end of August through mid-October is the time that people are at greatest risk for contracting a mosquito-borne disease. It is so important for everyone in the state, no matter where you live, to take simple precautions to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes."
So far this season, the state's Public Health Lab has tested 2,908 batches of mosquitoes. Of those, six tested positive for EEE and none tested positive for West Nile. One person was diagnosed with EEE in August.
EEE is a serious disease that carries a high mortality rate for those who contract its serious form. Symptoms may include high fever, severe headache and stiff neck.
There is no treatment for the disease, which can lead to seizures and coma. Symptoms usually occur four to 10 days after being bitten.
Simple steps for protection include using an effective mosquito repellant when outside; wearing long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active; removing standing water from around your home so mosquitoes do not have a place to breed; checking doors and windows to ensure screens are in place and in good condition to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.