Wilkinson County Horse Tests Positive for EEE
A horse in Wilkinson County tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), according to public health officials with the North Central Health District (NCHD). No human cases of EEE have been reported within the district.
EEE, commonly known as sleeping sickness in horses, is caused by a virus carried by infected mosquitoes. EEE is a type of encephalitis, a general term meaning an acute inflammation involving parts of the brain, spinal cord and meninges (membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord). The virus that causes EEE can be transmitted to humans and animals when they are bitten by infected mosquitoes. The virus is not transmitted from animal-to-animal, animal-to-human or human-to-human.
Since this is a virus, there is no specific treatment once the animal or the person develops encephalitis. There is a vaccine available to help prevent the development of EEE in horses, but there is no vaccine available for people.
The first symptoms of EEE are high fever (103° to 106°F), stiff neck, headache and lack of energy. These symptoms show two to 10 days after infection. Swelling of the brain, called encephalitis, is the most dangerous symptom. The disease progresses quickly.
Dr. David Harvey, District Health Director urges residents to take all possible measures to prevent mosquito bites. “The best ways to prevent bites are getting rid of standing water in your yard in which mosquitoes can breed, wearing appropriate clothing, and wearing insect repellant.”
Residents can remove stagnant water around their homes, where mosquitoes can breed, by taking these measures:
- Throw away or bring indoors anything that can collect water, such as old tires, cans, buckets, uncovered jars, and toys. Drill drainage holes in tires used as swings.
- Drain and scrub birdbaths, pet dishes, and kiddy pools at least once a week. Refill them with clean water.
- Empty water from saucers under potted plants, and from trash baskets. Turn over wheelbarrows.
- Clean gutters, flat roofs, and air conditioner drains frequently.
- When watering lawns or gardens, avoid leaving puddles behind. Drain or fill stagnant water pools, puddles, and drainage ditches around the home.
- Eliminate water-holding tree stumps, and fill holes in trees.
- Keep fish, such as goldfish, in ponds and water gardens. They will eat mosquito larvae.
- Keep window and door screens tight-fitting and in good repair.
- Store boats so they will not collect water.
- Maintain pools and hot tubs with proper chemicals and filtration. If you use covers over a pool, hot tub or boat, remove any water trapped on the covers after each rain.
- Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets so water does not collect.
- Keep grass and weeds mowed, especially on banks next to water, to reduce resting-places for adult mosquitoes.
A repellant containing DEET® should be used according to package instructions. Repellants with DEET® should not be used on infants, and children should only use repellants that contain less than 10 percent DEET®. Effective insect repellants that do not contain DEET® include Picardin and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. More information on insect repellants can be found by visiting the Georgia Division of Public Health’s Website at http://health.state.ga.us/epi/vbd/public.asp. Horse owners are urged to vaccinate horses through their local veterinarian.