Discovery of EEE-carrying mosquitoes leads to Pachaug forest closures

Voluntown - The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced Wednesday that it had closed two of its campgrounds in Pachaug State Forest because the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus has been detected in human-biting mosquitoes trapped in the area by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

The decision to close the Mt. Misery campground and the nearby Horse Camp, also known as the Frog Hollow Horse Camp, was made in consultation with the experiment station and the Department of Public Health, DEEP said in a news release. The campgrounds are closed until further notice.

"Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but potentially deadly disease that must be taken seriously," DEEP Commissioner Daniel Esty said. "Although we understand the inconvenience of having to cancel or change camping plans, the presence of EEE in human-biting mosquitoes so near to these campgrounds leaves us no choice but to close them in order to protect human health."

Mary Jane Lis, state veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture, reminded horse owners to review vaccination records with their veterinarians to ensure that EEE and West Nile Virus vaccinations are current and to take precautions against mosquito bites, especially when riding in areas with known infected mosquitoes.

The mosquitoes that tested positive for EEE were trapped in Voluntown on Aug. 13. Mosquitoes with EEE had been identified by the experiment station at the same site on July 10 and 17. While those EEE-infected mosquitoes were limited to a bird-biting species, the mosquitoes trapped on Aug. 13 include both bird-biting mosquitoes and those that feed on birds and people, according to the news release.

Day use of this part of Pachaug State Forest for hiking and other recreational activities will continue to be allowed, DEEP said. Signs will be posted by DEEP staff advising visitors of the presence of EEE in the area and precautions that should be taken to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Campers can visit the DEEP website at http://www.ct.gov/deep/camping for information about alternate camping areas.

For information, visit: www.ct.gov/mosquito.

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