Maine CDC Press Release

August 29, 2018

West Nile Virus Identified in Maine

Public reminded to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites

AUGUSTA- Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) announced today that a mosquito pool tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV) in York county. Maine's Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL) confirmed the presence of WNV in a single mosquito pool (a collection which contains between 1-50 mosquitoes) collected on August 21st, 2018 in the town of Kittery in York county.

Earlier this week Maine CDC announced an adult from Cumberland County was diagnosed with WNV.  The origin of the virus is unknown, as the person travelled to several other states during the time prior to developing symptoms. The individual became ill in early August while on a cross country road trip. The person was hospitalized and is recovering. This is the first case of WNV diagnosed in a Maine resident since 2015.

"West Nile is widespread throughout the United States right now," said Dr. Siiri Bennett, Maine's state epidemiologist; "Mainers should remember to take precautions against being bitten."

WNV and Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEV) are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. They cannot be transmitted from human to human or animal to human. The risk for being bitten by a mosquito is highest from dusk to dawn and when temperatures are above 50 degrees (and especially above 60 degrees). These are the conditions when mosquitoes are most actively biting.

Steps Mainers can take to protect themselves from EEEV and WNV include:

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants
  • Use an EPA approved repellent on skin and clothes - always follow the instructions on the label
  • Take extra precautions at dusk and dawn
  • Use screens on your windows and doors
  • Drain artificial sources of standing water where you live, work, and play
  • Vaccinate horses against EEEV and WNV

EEEV and WNV are carried by mosquitoes, which pick it up from infected wild birds. The virus replicates in birds, which act as natural reservoirs for the disease.