BURLINGTON (AP) -- Aerial spraying to control mosquitoes will start Thursday in part of Rutland and Addison counties where two people were sickened and one of them died from Vermont's first human cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a rare and potentially fatal brain infection spread by mosquitoes.
Richard Hollis Breen, 87, of Brandon had been sick with the disease for five days before he died on Tuesday at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, according to a death certificate released by the Vermont Health Department.
The Health Department also said Wednesday that an adult from Chittenden County was hospitalized with West Nile virus, another ailment spread by mosquitoes.
An obituary provided by a Brandon funeral home said Breen was a U.S. Navy veteran and life-long educator who had served as principal at Bristol High School and later at the Otter Valley Union High School. He also was a past president of the Vermont Headmasters Association.
Ground spraying to control mosquitoes by the Brandon, Leicester, Salisbury, Goshen Mosquito District has already started at campgrounds, schools, the Neshobe Golf Club and along roadways in the Forest Brook Development, the Health Department said.
Aerial spraying near Brandon and Whiting using a pesticide will start Thursday night if weather conditions are favorable, officials said.
EEE is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The illness can come on suddenly, characterized by chills, fever, malaise, joint and muscle pain lasting one to two weeks. In rare, more severe cases, the disease can infect the brain and spinal cord, causing high fever, stiff neck and worsening headache. Some people with severe EEE can go into a coma. About one-third of the people with severe EEE die from the disease, the Health Department said. Many of those who survive have mild to severe disabilities.
The best way to prevent EEE and West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites by minimizing time outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, wearing long pants, socks, shoes and long-sleeved shirts when outside at that time and use mosquito repellant containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus, the Health Department said.