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September 25. 2013 4:55PM

Ossipee residents at high risk of contracting EEE after horse tests positive

CONCORD — Ossipee residents are at a "high" risk level of contracting Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) after a horse in the northeastern part of the town tested positive for the virus, according to state health officials.

The risk level jumped from "remote" after the positive test results. The surrounding towns of Tamworth, Madison, Freedom, Effingham, Wakefield, Brookfield, Wolfeboro, Tuftonborough and Moultonborough will increase to a "moderate" risk level.

"This is not the first animal in New Hampshire to test positive for EEE this season," said state Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Director Dr. José Montero, "however this particular finding is in an area of the state where we haven't had positive EEE results in several years. This underscores the importance for everyone, no matter where you live in the state, to take steps to prevent mosquito bites until there is a killing frost statewide."

So far this season, the state's public health lab has tested 4,717 batches of mosquitoes. Twenty of them tested positive for EEE and 13 tested positive for West Nile Virus. One person was diagnosed with West Nile, and another horse tested positive for EEE.

EEE is a serious disease that carries a high mortality rate for those who contract the serious encephalitis form of the illness. Symptoms may include high fever, severe headache and stiff neck. There is no treatment for the disease, which can lead to seizures and coma.

Symptoms usually occur four to 10 days after being bitten, the same as West Nile.

If you or someone you know is experiencing flu-like symptoms, including fever and headache, contact your medical provider.

Questions about EEE and West Nile Virus can be answered by calling a toll-free EEE/West Nile Virus hotline at 1-866-273-6453. More information on both diseases may be found at the DHHS website at dhhs.nh.gov.

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