BETHANY, CT (WFSB) – A third person in the state has died from Eastern Equine Enchephalitis (EEE).
According to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, a third person has died and another person has contracted the virus.
The person who died, an East Haddam resident between 60-69 years old, became ill in the second week of September.
Health officials say the person who is currently ill is a Colchester resident between the ages of 40 and 49.
The two other people who died from EEE were from Old Lyme and East Lyme.
“Sadly, this has been an unprecedented year for EEE activity in Connecticut,” said Dr. Matthew Cartter, the DPH State Epidemiologist. “Before this year we have had only one human case of EEE in Connecticut, and that was in 2013."
Officials said the four people who contracted the virus were infected sometime between Aug. 11 and Sept. 8, which was the peak period of mosquito activity in the state.
"All four residents live in a part of eastern Connecticut where EEE activity has been a problem before this summer," Cartter said.
It was learned early this week that mosquitoes now in Bethany and Middlefield have tested positive for EEE, making it 17 towns where the virus has been detected.
As of Oct. 1, the following towns have been found with mosquitoes having EEE: Bethany, Chester, Groton, Haddam, Hampton, Killingworth, Ledyard, Lyme, Madison, Middlefield, North Stonington, Old Lyme, Plainfield, Shelton, South Windsor, Stonington, Voluntown.
The towns where horses have tested positive for EEE include: Colchester, Columbia, Montville, Salem, Sterling, Voluntown
Russell Melmed, of the Chatham Health District, said there is no reason to panic, but people should protect themselves.
"What we are recommending is that people avoid spending time outside from dusk until dawn when mosquitoes are most active. Even though we see mosquito populations come down, they are still active especially at those times so if residents are going to go outside, they should wear long sleeves wear long pants to cover up," Melmed said.
In light of the two deaths, numerous legislators have asked Gov. Ned Lamont to review and consider the use of mosquito pesticides in areas with high EEE activity.
Several towns have been spraying pesticides in small areas, but the lawmakers are requesting a more widespread spraying.
Many towns across the state have also been taking precautions, by limiting outdoor activities and events.
This week so far, the Hall vs Southington football game has been moved to Saturday Oct. 5 at 2:30pm. Terryville Little League has also canceled activities after 6 p.m.
The health district is continuing to monitor mosquito activity until the first hard frost.
Health officials say most people infected with EEE have no apparent illness, however some can be very ill. Severe cases of EEE (involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting 4 to 10 days after a mosquito bite. The illness may then progress to disorientation, seizures, or coma.
About one-third of people with EEE die from the disease and there is significant brain damage in most survivors.
For more information from the Environmental Protection Agency on bug repellents, click here.
EEE information can be found here.