A Kennebec County resident was diagnosed recently with a rare illness transmitted by mosquitoes, prompting the Maine Center for Disease Control to advise Mainers to protect themselves from the insect.

The unnamed adult in Kennebec County showed symptoms of Jamestown Canyon virus as early as June, according to a news release Thursday from the Maine CDC. The adult was hospitalized and is recovering at home, the agency said.

This may be the first reported case of Jamestown Canyon virus in the state, according to Siiri Bennett, the state epidemiologist.

The virus is “relatively rare,” Bennett said. One study found that only 31 cases of the disease were found nationally over a 14-year period.

None of the cases was in Maine, and none resulted in death, she said.

“I think this is the first case of Jamestown Canyon virus in Maine that we are aware of,” she said. It also may be that the cases are underreported, as there is no laboratory in the state that can test for the virus.


Symptoms of the virus, like others contracted from mosquitoes, include fever, neck stiffness and body aches, Bennett said. The virus also can result in meningitis and encephalitis.

While some people get bitten by mosquitoes infected with viruses — such as the better-known West Nile virus — and never experience symptoms, others can get seriously ill.

Eastern equine encephalitis, for example, can be deadly, Bennett said.

“We recommend that if you have something that looks like a summer flu and you get a high fever, you get it checked out,” she said.

While there isn’t a cure or vaccine for the viruses, supports are available in hospitals for some of the symptoms, she said, which can make it easier for a person’s body to fight the disease.

“The best way to avoid this is to not get bitten,” Bennett said. She recommends that people wear long sleeves and pants, use bug repellent on clothes and skin, use screens, and drain artificial sources of standing water, such as bird feeders.


Prevention is especially important from dusk to dawn and when the temperature is above 50 degrees, which is when mosquitoes are more likely to bite.

“We want to make sure that people are aware that mosquitoes are out there,” Bennett said. “It’s not just that they’re annoying. They can be dangerous as well.”

While it’s still a little early to say whether this season will be especially bad, Bennett said that given the wet and early spring, “it could be.”

“In general, we tend to see these viral diseases a lot more in the late summer, early fall,” she said, because mosquitoes get the viruses from birds — or deer, in the case of Jamestown Canyon virus. After they’ve fed on the animals for a while, they’re more likely to be infectious.

While Jamestown Canyon virus, West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis can be transmitted via a mosquito bite, none can be transferred from person to person or from an animal to a person.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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