VALDOSTA — The released the following statement this morning:
The Georgia Department of Agriculture has confirmed one positive case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a horse found in Brooks County. This is the first positive case of EEE found in a horse in South Georgia this year.
EEE is the inflammation or swelling of the brain caused by the eastern equine encephalitis virus. EEE is regarded as one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The EEE virus is transmitted to humans and horses through the bite of an infected mosquito; however, the illness is rare in humans. The EEE virus normally only circulates between birds and mosquitoes in swampy areas. EEE is not transmitted from person to person, horse to horse or horse to human.
While most people bitten by a mosquito carrying EEE will not get sick, those that are infected will generally show symptoms within 3 to 10 days. The symptoms of EEE are sudden onset of fever, muscle pains and headaches; many will also experience more severe illness that may include seizures and coma.
Although most people will not become sick, people are encouraged to take precautions when outdoors. Anyone that is outdoors should do all they can to protect themselves and others from the bites of mosquitoes.
Your personal mosquito protection efforts should include the “5 D’s” for prevention: Dusk/Dawn: Mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus (WNV) usually bite at dusk and dawn. Limit outdoor activity during those hours. Dress: Wear light, loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin. DEET: Cover exposed skin and clothes with an insect repellent containing the chemical DEET. It is the most effective repellant against mosquito bites. Drain: Empty any containers (buckets, barrels, kiddie pools) holding standing water to prevent breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Doors: Make sure doors, windows and screens are in good condition and fit tightly to keep out mosquitoes.
Horses should be vaccinated against EEE and WNV annually at a veterinarian’s office. For more information on EEE or any other mosquito-borne disease visit www.cdc.gov or call the South Health District at 333-5290.