MOSQUITO-BORNE ILLNESSES REPORTED IN STATE
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Sixteen cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in horses have been confirmed in Alabama and four more have been confirmed in the Florida panhandle.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has now been confirmed in 16 Alabama counties.
Infected horses in Alabama were located in Autauga, Baldwin, Conecuh, Covington, Escambia, Lowndes, Mobile, Russell and Washington counties.
"Hurricane Dennis has made us extremely vulnerable to the spread of mosquito-borne viruses, and we need to protect our livestock and ourselves," said Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Ron Sparks. "I want to encourage horse owners to vaccinate their horses for both EEE and West Nile Virus as soon as possible."
EEE is a mosquito-transmitted disease that is much more severe than West Nile Virus (WNV). The mortality rate in horses from WNV is reported at around 30 percent, while the rate for EEE is almost 90 percent.
Infected mosquitoes are the primary source for EEE. The virus causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. General symptoms of infected horses include central nervous system signs such as: head pressing, convulsions, lack of response to facial stimulation, fever above 103 degrees, ataxia, paralysis, anorexia, depression and stupor.
Other symptoms may include irregular gait, teeth grinding, in-coordination, circling and staggering. An infected horse may not exhibit all of the symptoms.
Commissioner Sparks and State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier recommend vaccinating horses every six months against both EEE and WNV.
Horse owners are encouraged to contact their local veterinarian to schedule immunization of their horses. Horse owners can expect to spend around $30 to vaccinate their horses against these two viruses.
The public also is advised to make every effort to reduce human exposure to mosquitoes. The first human death in 2005 from EEE was confirmed recently in a man in Escambia County, and another patient was treated in Baldwin County.
For more information about EEE or WNV, contact Dr. Tony Frazier at 334-240-7253 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.