Health Officials Warn of Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Mosquito bites are often little more than itchy and annoying. They can, however, lead to a pair of serious and potentially deadly diseases, West Nile Virus and the more-serious Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or Triple-E. In 2012, three people in Massachusetts died from Triple-E and one died from West Nile. State Public Health Veterinarian Catherine Brown says previous year activity can actually more likely predict current year activity.

“And so given the intensity of what we saw last year, we’re certainly particularly worried about Triple-E. West Nile Virus is less dependent upon what happened the year before.”

Brown says however, a number of factors make it difficult to predict the severity of mosquito-borne illnesses from year-to-year–like the size of mosquito populations, weather and the presence of infected birds.
 
“And all of those factors have an interplay, which ends up resulting in either a significant West Nile Virus or Triple-E year or a less significant year.”
 
To prevent mosquito bites, officials urge people to use insect repellent when outdoors and to consider wearing long clothing. Mosquitos with West Nile have already been detected in Eastern Massachusetts this summer. In Connecticut, experts have collected double the usual amount of mosquitos for this time of year, but none have tested positive for either disease.