Maine CDC Press Release

June 30, 2006

Summer Health Tip: Prevent Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus, and EEE: Cover Up, Clean Up, and Check Daily

The Maine CDC, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is reminding Mainers that this is the time to take a few simple precautions that will reduce one’s chances of contracting Lyme disease, West Nile virus and even Eastern Equine encephalitis (EEE).

“Clean up, cover up, and check daily is our mantra this year,” announced Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, Director of the Maine CDC.

Clean Up unnecessary standing water, rain gutters, leaf litter, brush, and logs in order to reduce tick and mosquito habitats around the yard.
Cover Up with a long-sleeve shirt and pants, and use a DEET-containing insect repellent to reduce the chances of being bitten by ticks and mosquitoes.
Check Daily your and your children’s skin for tick bites when outside.
“Over the past several years, we have had an average of over 200 people in Maine contracting Lyme disease. This is a bacterial infection carried by deer ticks”, elaborated Dr. Mills. “Effective prevention measures include reducing the chances of getting tick bites and checking skin for tick bites since transmission of Lyme disease is unlikely if ticks are removed within 24 hours of a bite.”

The most common early symptom of Lyme disease is an expanding red rash that occurs at the site of the tick bite within 3-32 days after being bitten. Fever, joint and muscle pains may also occur. Persons with these symptoms should call their doctor.

West Nile virus has been detected since 2001 in birds across Maine and in a few samples of mosquitoes. “Since this virus is carried by birds, and is transmitted to humans through infected mosquitoes that have bitten infected birds, the risk of human infection appears to be present even though there are no reports of people contracting the infection in Maine,” explained Dr. Mills.

Eastern Equine encephalitis, also known as EEE was detected for the first time in Maine last year. In 2005 two horses in York County died of EEE, and it was detected in 12 birds and in one sample of mosquitoes in York and Cumberland Counties. “Although EEE was found in seven people in New Hampshire last year, including two who died, it has not been detected in people yet in Maine,” explained Dr. Mills.

“The simplest prevention measures against EEE and West Nile virus involve: avoiding mosquito bites, especially during their most active times of dusk and dawn; and reducing mosquito populations in and around one’s home,” noted Dr. Mills. Avoiding the peak mosquito biting time of dusk to dawn and repairing window screens are additional strategies that reduce the risk of infection.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus and EEE include flu-like symptoms such as fever and vomiting, as well as headaches and occasionally neurological symptoms such as stroke-like symptoms or coma. People with these symptoms should call their doctor.

People can find additional information on West Nile Virus, Lyme disease, and EEE as well as mosquito control issues at www.MainePublicHealth.Gov, under ‘Mosquito-Borne Diseases FAQ’ and under ‘Lyme disease.

Contact:

Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH

Director, Maine CDC

207-287-3270

Lynn “Kip” Kippax, Director

Media and Public Relations

Department of Health and Human Services

(207) 287-5012 direct