DOH Addresses Residents’ Concerns About Eastern Equine Encephalitis

Aedes aegypti, the principal mosquito vector of dengue viruses, is closely associated with humans and their dwellings. (Photo: CDC)

Some Virgin Islands residents have expressed concern about a rare mosquito-borne illness called Eastern equine encephalitis, also known as Triple E or EEE, that is currently affecting certain areas of the United States.

“The Virgin Islands Department of Health (VIDOH) would like residents to know that they are not at risk for Triple E in USVI because the mosquito that maintains the virus in the natural environment has never been found in USVI,” Dr. Brett Ellis, director of the Territorial Public Health Laboratory, said. “The primary disease vector for the territory is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which does not spread Triple E.”

A vector is an animal that has the ability to spread diseases. In the territory, the VIDOH Vector Control Program (VCP) is currently monitoring the vector Aedes aegypti, a mosquito responsible for spreading dengue, Zika, and chikungunya. The Vector Control Program is currently expanding these monitoring efforts throughout the territory to learn more about this mosquito and figure out the most effective ways to control it. For this reason, residents may see more vector control personnel setting mosquito traps and performing other control activities throughout the territory, according to a press release issued Monday by the V.I. Department of Health.

Currently, there are no dengue, Zika, or chikungunya cases in the territory, with the last Zika case occurring in January of 2018.

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Residents are encouraged to always wear EPA-approved mosquito repellent, loose-fitting and light-colored clothing, and to keep screens on windows and doors in good repair to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Those planning travel outside of the territory are advised to wear EPA-approved mosquito repellent and loose-fitting and light-colored clothing. More information for concerned travelers can be found on the Center for Disease Control Prevention website at www.cdc.gov.

Those with questions or concerns about mosquito-borne diseases or V.I. Department of Health Vector Control Program VIDOH activities are invited to call the program at 690-9177 or send an email to [email protected].

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