The Vermont Department of Health is calling for volunteers to participate in a research study that will test blood samples from residents living in Brandon, Sudbury and Whiting for antibodies to Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEE).
The Health Department wants to learn if many people have been infected with EEE virus but did not get sick. Individual test results will not be shared with participants. All information collected during the study will be confidential.
“Very few studies like this have been conducted on EEE virus exposure, and it has never been done before in Vermont,” said Erica Berl, infectious disease epidemiologist for the Health Department. “The results will help us better understand how many people in the community have been exposed to the virus without realizing it. Some people may have mild or not symptoms, but we don’t know how common that is.”
The first of three clinics will be held on April 23, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Brandon Senior Center (1591 Forest Dale Road). The other two clinics will be held from noon to 7 p.m. at Sudbury Town Hall (May 14) and Whiting Town Hall (May 29).
Anyone age 12 and older who has lived at their current residence in one of the three towns since June 1, 2012 can participate. Approximately 2,000 informational flyers were mailed to residents to announce the clinics. Volunteers will be screened for eligibility and there is no sign up required in advance.
Eligible participants will be asked to complete a brief survey and give a small blood sample. A nurse or phlebotomist will collect the blood, which will only be tested for antibodies to EEE.
The Health Department is conducting the study in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
EEE is an extremely rare but potentially fatal viral disease spread to people and horses through the bite of an infected mosquito. Last fall two Vermonters died from EEE. Both lived in areas where mosquitoes had tested positive for EEE virus.
For more information on EEE, visit the Health Department at www.healthvermont.gov. Follow us on Twitter and join us on Facebook for health information, news and alerts.