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- Official Confirm Horse Had EEE
- By Kytja Weir
- 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.
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- 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
- 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
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