This time last year, we were hearing news reports in the Portland Press Herald and other local sources that residents of Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire were at risk for a potentially deadly disease contracted from mosquitoes. We’re not talking about the stuff we’re all too familiar with (like West Nile), though we have seen an increase in arboviruses in general.
This disease, called Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), has actually been around for a while and never before resulted in human infection. That all changed last August when a man from York County ended up in the hospital complaining of suspicious symptoms, and the answer was confirmed with a blood test. Just over two hours south of Bangor, Maine, the news caused concern for many residents and local pest control – rightfully so.
Fortunately, no new cases have been reported since, but time has a funny way of making people forget. While anyone who spends even 10 minutes in our wonderful state knows just how horrible the mosquitoes can be around here, the fact that these little monsters are disease-ridden pests doesn’t register nearly as high up as the awful itch their bites create. Both the CDC and Modern Pest exterminators want to remind folks not just in Bangor, but those living in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts that the threat of EEE has not disappeared.
What Are The Symptoms of EEE?
One of the issues with EEE is that the vague flu-like symptoms cause folks to delay making the trip to their doctor. Symptoms include:
- High fever (103 degrees+)
- Stiff neck and headache
- Lack of energy
- Inflammation of the brain
See what we mean? Clearly a person can’t self-diagnose inflammation of the brain, but a good indicator for this disease is how fast the other symptoms come on. If you experience any of them within 3-10 days of getting bit, play it safe and head to the doctor. The disease rapidly progresses, so it’s not uncommon for a coma to occur within a week of symptom onset. The good news is that it’s not contagious between humans and animals; the only way to contract EE is through a bite.
Now that we’ve shared the seriousness, let’s talk about ways to avoid the disease altogether.
Don’t Give Mosquitoes a Home
There are 40 different types of mosquitoes that live in the Northeast. Yes, 40 different types. Despite variety, mosquitoes are pretty homogeneous when it comes to their preferred living space. The more you do to make a hostile environment for them, the less likely they are to hang around. Use these backyard tips to keep them away:
- Get rid of every form of standing water. Buckets, tires, cans, bottles – everything. Standing water provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Have a kiddy pool? Keep it clean and drain it when you’re not using it. Better yet, flip it upside down so it doesn’t become a rainwater collector.
- Keep any fountains or water features clean, change the water frequently or install a water fountain system to create water flow.
- Clean your gutters. This is a messy task, but they love the standing water that blockages in your gutter create.
- If you have standing water in your yard, level the field. Literally. Fill it with dirt and plant grass seeds to make it last.
- Get repelling. There are citronella tiki torches, candles, and intermittent sprays available in stores across the country, even gas stations.
- Treat every area outside of your home as a breeding ground, and wear bug spray. You may be a little sticky, you may even stink a little, but you will avoid getting bitten – or sick.
When all else fails, it’s time to call in the expert exterminators.
Modern Pest to the Rescue
Bangor, ME residents (and folks in the states of NH and MA) have access to many pest control experts who all offer similar treatments for an existing mosquito problem.
But Modern Pest does things a little differently. We consider it an ongoing war against a flying foe, not only working to treat breeding grounds but eliminate them entirely. We find mosquitoes where they’re hanging out, like under foliage and in shaded damp areas – and we get them. We know that these pests are in no way beneficial to a healthy environment; it’s our job to keep you safe. All it takes is a quick call or filling out a small form for a free estimate, and you’ll be EEE free around your home all summer long.