LEBANON — The Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus has been found in a flock of pheasants at a farm in Lebanon. The discovery Monday marks the first instance of the EEE virus reported in Maine this year.

Maine Centers for Disease Control epidemiologist Dr. Stephen Sears notified selectmen of the finding. The board met to discuss the matter Monday afternoon.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause illness in horses, some birds and humans. Sears said to date, no humans in Maine have ever been reported to have contracted the disease, but there have been prior instances in Massachusetts and Vermont of people who have contracted EEE.

Sears this morning said the so-called EEE virus is transmitted in the same manner as West Nile virus, through mosquitoes, and that people should take some precautions, like checking to make sure window screens are in good order, and using inspect repellent.

“Try to minimize mosquito bites,” he said.

The EEE virus was found in a flock at a pheasant farm. It is the first instance of EEE in Maine in the last couple of years, said Sears.

About 30 pheasants out of the flock of 70 have died, said Selectman Jason Cole in a prepared statement.

This is not the first time that Eastern Equine Encephalitis has been found in animals in Lebanon, but it is the first for this year, said Cole.

The discovery of EEE isn’t the only mosquito-borne virus discovered in Lebanon; West Nile virus was found in mosquitoes here last month.

Sears pointed out that not all mosquitoes carry EEE, and even if they do, it doesn’t mean someone bitten will contract the disease. Symptoms include sudden fever, chills, headache and encephalitis, commonly referred to as inflammation of the brain.

Sears said people shouldn’t panic.

“Be alert and aware, but not overly alarmed or afraid,” said Sears. “Be prudent.”

The decision of how to handle the remainder of the pheasant flock will be up to the Maine Department of Agriculture, said Sears.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, Ext. 327 or [email protected].

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