Maine CDC urges caution to avoid mosquito bites

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Maine Center for Disease Control is urging people to take extra precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.

While there have been no positive tests for West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Maine in either mosquito pools or in people, that does not mean the viruses are not potentially present.

"We have not had any positive pools in our state of Maine, which is a little bit surprising because we did anticipate that," stated Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of the Maine CDC. "Vermont had their first positive pool in the middle of June."

Dr. Pinette says a man just across the state border in North Conway, New Hampshire tested positive for EEE last week. Another person in Massachusetts tested positive for West Nile Virus last week as well.

"We don't want to alarm the public. We want people to enjoy the outdoors, get outside and exercise, have fun with the outdoor sports and hiking, but we want to make sure you take the appropriate precautions," explained Dr. Pinette.

The CDC advises people to protect themselves by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks, especially if they are outside when mosquitoes are most active in the hours around dawn and dusk. They also suggest people use bug sprays that contain DEET on any exposed skin, except on young children.

"For small children under the age of three, we don't recommend insect repellent, but what we do recommend is if you are out with a stroller, you are putting netting over them, if you are sleeping in a tent, make sure there is netting over them," advised Dr. Pinette. She says people can also try less harmful, more holistic approaches like lemon eucalyptus sprays and scents.
The CDC also recommends people rid their property of any standing water that can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

"When there is rain, they need to be emptying out the tire swings and the plant pots so we don't see a lot of the breeding of mosquitoes and increase the numbers," said Pinette.

Dr. Pinette says the risk of becoming infected may be small, but the consequences can be devastating. More than a third of the people who contract EEE die from the virus.

"There are millions and millions and millions of mosquitoes out there, so actually, the chance of getting it are small, but with that risk can come some significant side effects," she said. "So it is very important, with the knowledge that we have, to use that knowledge to empower ourselves and take proper precautions."


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