Equine virus confirmed in Dallas County

Published 1:48 pm Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Alabama Department of Public Health has confirmed four positive cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in horses in Dallas County.

EEE is a rare but serious viral disease spread by mosquitoes that can affect people and horses.

According to the CDC, there are, on average, six human cases of EEE in the United States each year.

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Dr. Dee W. Jones, Alabama State Public Health Veterinarian, said that the significance of positive horses means the virus is present in the mosquito population.

The cases of infection have mostly been found in the summer and fall months when mosquitoes are most active.

Symptoms of the virus can either be systemic or encephalitic (involving swelling of the brain). Systemic infection has an abrupt onset and involves chills, fever, malaise, arthralgia and myalgia, and lasts one to two weeks. It is also possible that some people who become infected with the virus may not develop any symptoms.

Approximately one-third of all people with EEE die from the disease.

The best way to prevent human cases of the disease is to prevent mosquito bites. When going outdoors, be sure to use repellant containing DEET on arms, legs and other exposed areas, but never under clothing. Citronella candles and repellants containing citronella can help, but their range is limited.

Mosquito activity peaks at dusk and again at dawn, so it is best to limit outdoor activity at those times. Also, mosquitoes breed in standing water, so make sure to empty water from old tires, cans, jars, buckets, drums, plastic wading pools and toys.

Wearing long sleeves and pants when the weather permits will also help prevent cases of EEE.