Two diseases of concern in our state are West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE). The viruses that causes these diseases are called arboviruses (arthropod borne viruses), because they are transmitted by arthropods, in these instances, mosquitoes.
Dead Birds: The Vermont Department of Health is no longer taking dead bird reports. If you see a dead bird, you can bury it or double bag it and put in the trash. Always wear gloves when handling dead animals.
West Nile Virus
West Nile virus was first detected in Vermont in 2000 and activity peaked in 2002 when 5 horses, 125 dead birds and one person tested positive for the virus. This virus was first introduced into the United States in 1999. Since then, it has spread throughout the 48 contiguous United States. In the past few years, WNV activity has been low in New England. A small number of birds or mosquitoes have tested positive every year. In 2011, two Vermonters were diagnosed with WNV infection. Prior to this, illness in a person hadn’t been reported since 2003. The last horse case in Vermont was reported in 2005.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis
Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is also caused by a virus. As of the beginning of September 2012, two human cases of EEE in Vermont have been confirmed.
In 2010 and 2011, blood was collected from deer and moose during hunting season, and evidence of current or prior infection was found in these species. This was the first time evidence of EEE virus had ever been detected in Vermont. In 2011, several emus in a large flock died from EEE virus infection. This was the first illness in an animal documented in Vermont.
EEE and West Nile viruses can be circulating anywhere in the state. Vermonters should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
For more information, read the State of Vermont Arbovirus Surveillance and Response Plan.
- CDC's info on WNV and preventing mosquito bites
- CDC specific information about EEE
- USDA - Information about WNV and EEE virus in horses
- CDC Mosquito-borne Diseases