Often Deadly Eastern
Equine Encephalitis
Found In MD

From Patricia Doyle, PhD

The often deadly Eastern Equine Encephalitis has now been found in Maryland. This is the first time in 7 years that it has emerged in Maryland. It had not been seen in humans or horses in Maryland for the past 7 years.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is far more deadly then West Nile Virus. Health authorities should be sounding the waring alarm up and down the east coast as well as throughout the US. West Nile Virus sometimes causes encephalitis, however, EEE ALWAYS causes encephalitis. Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) like West Nile Virus is vectored by mosquitos. We need to mosquito proof our property as much as possible. As I mentioned on the program, those who are physically able can help the folks in your neighborhood who are ill or elderly and are unable to clean up their property and dump standing water etc. Mosquitos, as well as fleas, biting flies and ticks recognize no borders, and do not respect fences. Mosquito proofing clean up IS a community activity.
Patricia Doyle
From ProMED-mail
By Howard Libit Baltimore Sun
2 horses on the Eastern Shore of Maryland have tested positive for eastern equine Encephalitis (EEE), the first time in 7 years that the often-deadly mosquito-borne disease has been found in animals or humans in Maryland, state officials announced.
The confirmation of equine encephalitis near Pocomoke City in Worcester County sparked serious concern among both agricultural and health officials, who said the infection poses far more danger than West Nile virus.
"This has a very high fatality rate in human cases, and it is very fatal in horses," said Dr. Tracy DuVernoy, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's acting state public health veterinarian. "Other animals are very susceptible, too." In addition to horses, equine encephalitis frequently infects ratites -- flightless birds that include ostriches and emus. Signs in both horses and ratites include apprehension, depression, listlessness, paralysis, lack of coordination, weakness, head-pressing, circling, and stumbling, according to state agricultural officials.
Spread by bites from infected mosquitoes, equine encephalitis can cause brain swelling. Up to half the people who are infected and develop neurological symptoms die from the illness, compared with fewer than 10 percent of people who suffer a West Nile virus neurological infection, according to state officials.
Already in 2003, a Georgia man died of an equine encephalitis infection, and many cases have been reported in horses in 4 southeastern states. The last reported human case of equine encephalitis in Maryland was in 1989, DuVernoy said. The Dorchester County man died.
While mosquitoes carrying the equine encephalitis virus have been captured occasionally in Maryland, the last time a horse was found to be infected was in 1996, said Sue duPont of the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA).
The 2 horses in Worcester were found on separate farms outside of Pocomoke City that are about 6 miles apart, duPont said. After displaying neurological symptoms, both were euthanized. Tests of their brain tissue confirmed the diagnosis.
Additional aerial spraying for mosquitoes is already being planned for the areas around the 2 farms said Cyrus Lesser, chief of the state Department of Agriculture's mosquito control division. Final approval is being sought from the local government officials and the Federal Aviation Administration, and then the state must notify the community of the planned spraying. "This is something we want to spray for as soon as we can," Lesser said. It is not believed that an equine encephalitis infection in horses can be spread [directly, without a mosquito bite] to humans, so no additional steps are being taken for the people who live on or near the 2 farms, DuVernoy said.
But local health officials have been reminded to be vigilant for the infection's symptoms. Symptoms in humans include fever, headache, mental confusion, vomiting, extreme fatigue, muscle aches and -- in extreme cases -- seizure and coma, according to state health officials. Suspected cases are required to be reported to the state.
Officials also renewed their warnings to Marylanders to take precautions against mosquitoes, particularly for people older than age 50. Those steps include eliminating standing water where mosquitoes breed, as well as wearing long sleeves, long pants, and mosquito repellant when outdoors. Windows and door screens should be checked to ensure they're intact, and outdoor activity should be avoided at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are more active.
Although human vaccines haven't yet been developed, vaccines exist to protect horses from both equine encephalitis and West Nile virus. State agricultural officials could not say yesterday what percentage of Maryland horses have been protected, but they have recently been encouraging horse owners to take advantage of the vaccines.
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at:
Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
Go with God and in Good Health



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