Rare mosquito-borne Jamestown Canyon Virus kills Dublin resident

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/9/2021 3:01:52 PM

A Dublin resident has died after testing positive for the mosquito-borne Jamestown Canyon Virus, the first case detected this year in New Hampshire.

According to an advisory posted by the Dublin Police Department with information provided by Dublin Health Officer Mike Borden, the person who died was bitten by a mosquito in Dublin on June 28. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced the resident’s death on Aug. 6, though the press release did not specify the date of death. 

Jamestown Canyon virus circulates widely in North America primarily between deer and mosquitoes but can also infect humans, though cases among humans are very rare, according to the Center for Disease Control. CDC statistics reveal that an average of 15 Jamestown Canyon virus cases are reported each year in the United States, though it is believed cases are likely under-diagnosed when they are less severe in their symptoms. Five cases were reported in New Hampshire in 2020.

The adult who was infected was hospitalized with neurological symptoms and ultimately died, with the Jamestown Canyon virus infection a contributing cause.

“Jamestown Canyon Virus and the other mosquito-borne infections can cause serious illness,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, New Hampshire State Epidemiologist. “As summer progresses into fall, the risk from mosquito-transmitted infections is expected to increase. So residents and visitors to New Hampshire should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites, especially as people are encouraged to spend more time outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The DHHS announced the risk level for mosquito-borne disease for Dublin has been increased to “high” as a result of the identified infection. Surrounding communities, including Harrisville, Peterborough, Jaffrey and Marlborough have been increased to “moderate.”

Borden said the immediate precautions for residents to take include using caution when outside, particularly in the early morning or late evening, and using mosquito repellant.

Borden also advised residents to remove any standing water from their property at least once a week, including from buckets, flower pots, pet bowls, birdbaths, and kiddie pools, which are mosquito breeding grounds.

Tightly cover or screen water storage containers and things like tarps and tires so they do not collect rain water.

Other mosquito-borne illnesses which are potential risks in the state include Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus.

People can be infected with any of those three illnesses and not develop any symptoms, or only develop very mild symptoms. for people who develop symptoms, the time from mosquito bite to feeling ill can range from a few days to up to two weeks from the bite.

Early symptoms can include fever, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. Some also have respiratory symptoms such as a cough, sore throat or runny nose. More serious central nervous system diseases, including meningitis or encephalitis, can occur with these diseases. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms, including fever and headache, contact your local medical provider. There are no vaccines to prevent Jamestown Canyon virus and care consists of treating symptoms to keep the individual comfortable.

About half of patients with Jamestown Canyon virus are hospitalized, but deaths associated with the infection are rare.

Reports of Jamestown Canyon virus in humans have been increasing over the last several years as testing for this virus has increased. This is New Hampshire’s fifteenth case since the first report of the disease in 2013. Many illnesses caused by the virus are mild, but moderate-to-severe central nervous system involvement requiring hospitalization have been reported, including fatal infections. In New Hampshire, human cases of Jamestown Canyon virus have been recorded as early as mid-May and as late as early November.

Anyone with questions about vector-borne illnesses can call the DPHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at (603) 271-4496 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. More information can also be found online at www.dhhs.nh.gov and www.cdc.gov.


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