PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- The Pender County Health Department says three horses in the county have died from Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
The health department says EEE is a rare viral disease. In North Carolina it is more common in the eastern part of the state than in other areas. It is transmitted by mosquitoes which attack the central nervous system, causing inflammation of the brain and can be fatal to animals and humans.
Experts say people should take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their horses. This is the third EEE positive case for Pender County in 2013.
People can start experiencing symptoms from a few days to two weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms include fever and headache and can resemble a case of the flu. Survivors of EEE infections may suffer from long-term effects to the nervous system. Symptoms of the disease can be treated, but there is no specific cure. There is no vaccine for humans, but there is a vaccine for horses. The American Academy of Equine Practitioners recommends vaccinating horses every 6 months in areas where mosquitoes are active year-round.
The health department advises the public to follow the “5 D’s” for prevention:
•Dusk and Dawn – Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are seeking blood. For many species, this is during the dusk and dawn hours.
•Dress – Wear clothing that covers most of your skin.
•DEET – When the potential exists for exposure to mosquitoes, repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide,) are recommended. Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are other repellent options.
•Drainage – Check around your home to rid the area of standing water, which is where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.
To reduce mosquito breeding areas around your home and farm:
•Remove any containers that can hold water;
•Keep gutters clean and in good repair;
•Repair leaky outdoor faucets and change the water in bird baths and pet bowls at least twice a week;
•Use screened windows and doors and make sure screens fit tightly and are not torn.
•Keep tight-fitting screens or lids on rain barrels.
If you have specific questions pertaining to your horse and EEE please consult your veterinarian or the NCDA&CS at 919-733-7601. You may contact the Pender County Health at (910) 259-1230.