Case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis identified in Brunswick County horse

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Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 3:34 PM EDT
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BOLIVIA, N.C. (WECT) - A horse in Brunswick County has been diagnosed with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), according to a news release from county officials. The identification of EEE in the horse took place on Sept. 1.

Transmission of the virus is caused by the bites of an infected mosquito.

County officials say if you are a horse owner, consult your veterinarian regarding proper protective vaccines for your horses and change the water in water troughs at least twice a week to discourage mosquito breeding.

An unvaccinated quarter horse gelding in Pender County died from EEE after testing positive for the virus on Aug. 2.

Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. However, the cases occur relatively infrequently, largely because the primary transmission cycle takes place in and around cedar or hardwood swamp areas where human populations tend to be limited.

County mosquito control officials regularly monitor the mosquito species to identify EEE activity and direct mosquito spraying operations to reduce the risk to the human and horse populations.

“We can address areas that we can access with the mosquito truck, but we cannot effectively address mosquito populations deep in the woods, where they tend to be more active,” Mosquito Control Supervisor Jeff Brown said. “This is why personal protection measures are so important to hunters and outdoorsmen.”

Residents can better protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants, avoiding outside activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, and applying mosquito repellent.

If using a repellent with DEET, make sure to follow label instructions, and keep DEET out of the eyes, mouth and nose.

According to the CDC, only about four to five percent of human EEEV infections result in EEE. In the United States, an average of seven human cases of EEE are reported annually. However, most cases of EEE have been reported from Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina. EEEV transmission is most common in and around freshwater hardwood swamps in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states and the Great Lakes region.

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