Union horse has equine encephalitis

Published: Friday, April 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 31, 2005 at 11:24 p.m.
A horse in Union County has become the state's first case this year of Eastern equine encephalitis, prompting state authorities to warn area residents about mosquitoborne illnesses.
Testing last month confirmed a local veterinarian's suspicions that the 3-year-old horse had contracted the disease, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported. Results also showed the animal had been exposed to West Nile virus.
The findings should serve as a reminder for horse owners to vaccinate their animals and for residents to take precautions against mosquitos, which can transmit both diseases to humans, department spokesman Terry McElroy said.
Eastern equine encephalitis or EEE symptoms can range from mild, flu-like symptoms to more severe problems including seizures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
West Nile symptoms include mild, flu-like symptoms such as headaches and muscle aches as well as fever, fatigue, dizziness, weakness and confusion.
The CDC estimates that 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms and that human cases of EEE occur relatively infrequently. People at greater risk of severe illness and death include those older than 50 or with compromised immune symptoms.
With recent rains and the likelihood of more mosquitoes, experts recommend people avoid bites by:
  • staying indoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are more active.
  • wearing loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants when they are outside.
  • using a repellent that contains DEET, except on children less than 2 months old.
  • eliminating mosquito breeding grounds by removing standing water from birdbaths, kiddie pools, old tires or other items where water can accumulate.
    Lise Fisher can be reached at (352) 374-5092 or fisherl@gvillesun.com.
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