Mosquito Borne EEE
Kills Another Horse

From Patricia Doyle, PhD

A ProMED-mail post ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
Official Confirm Horse Had EEE
By Kytja Weir
Charlotte Observer
Health officials on Tuesday confirmed that a sick horse put to sleep in the north western edge of Union County last week had eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), a mosquitoborne virus that can be fatal to humans.
While the state has reported at least 26 cases in horses so far this year, compared with only several at this time last year, it is the first reported case in Union County in at least 18 years, said the county's health director, Lorey White. EEE, like West Nile virus (WNV), causes flu-like symptoms in humans and can be fatal especially in infants, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. The virus attacks the central nervous system, causing inflammation of the brain. Initial symptoms include a sudden fever and headache several days to 2 weeks after a mosquito bite.
Wild birds serve as hosts for the virus. Mosquitoes bite the birds and then can transmit the virus when they bite humans and animals. Unlike the flu, it is not contagious when people are exposed to a person or animal with the virus.
White would not identify the owners of the sick horse but said it lived north of Unionville near the Cabarrus County border. Although humans cannot be vaccinated against the virus, he urged all horse owners to get their horses vaccinated for EEE and WNV.
Salisbury Daily Times 8-13-3
SALISBURY -- Another horse in Worcester County has succumbed to eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), raising the county's death count to 3 horses, the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported on Tuesday. The test results confirmed suspicions that the horse's death last week in Whaleyville was caused by the mosquitoborne virus.
On Friday, health officials also reported that EEE was detected in mosquitoes collected from a swamp in the same town where the horse was infected. In response to the latest outbreak, the state Department of Agriculture conducted an aerial spraying mission last night over the Pocomoke River Swamp in Wicomico and Worcester counties. "It has always been one of the mosquito hot spots on the Eastern Shore. In the early 1900s there were reports of horse deaths here," said Cyrus Lesser, chief of the Eastern Shore mosquito control program for the Department of Agriculture.
Last week, a horse in Caroline County died of West Nile virus, only the second equine fatality ever reported on the Eastern Shore. This year there have been 203 human cases of West Nile [virus infection] in the United States, 5 of which were fatal, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since 1964, there have been only 153 US cases of EEE, but 7 of those have occurred this year.
A case of EEE usually begins with a dark swamp mosquito that feeds exclusively on wild birds, which in turn transmits the virus to mosquitoes that feed on horses or humans. Ted Mollett, an animal science professor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, said a likely explanation for the increase in EEE was damp spring and summer conditions, which has led to a proliferation of mosquitoes. "It's speculation, but it's possible that next year there could be more birds carrying the virus. But if there are fewer mosquitoes, there could be fewer infections," Mollett said.
Chickens, pheasants, turkeys, and ducks also can be infected with EEE, though they are affected differently. "The good news for chickens is that they seldom show signs of infection.Domestic birds, such as pheasants, are quite susceptible, though," he said.
The outbreak of EEE is the first in Worcester County since 1989, which is the last time the county's swamps were sprayed, Lesser said.
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