Horse in Shawano County tests positive for Eastern equine encephalitis

Mosquitoes can also spread EEE to humans

SHAWANO, Wis. - A horse in Shawano County has tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis, the Shawano-Menominee Counties Health Department said.

It is caused by the EEE virus which is transmitted by mosquitoes. It can also affect humans and other animals.

No EEE cases in humans have been reported in Wisconsin since 2011. That was the only the second known case ever in the state. The first was in 1964.

EEE virus is transmitted to humans, horses, birds and other animals during bites from infected mosquitoes, the health department said.

Mosquitoes get the virus by feeding on infected birds.

It can't be transmitted person-to-person, between animals or between humans and animals. However, an EEE positive horse in the area confirms there are infected mosquitoes that could transmit the virus to people and other animals, the health department said.

Most people infected with EEE do not have symptoms, but some can develop encephalitis which is inflammation of the brain. It begins with sudden onset of fever, headache, chills and vomiting, the health department said.

There is no specific treatment for this EEE illness.

Signs of EEE infection in horses include depression, loss of appetite, drooping eyelids, blindness, paralysis and even death.

Horse owners can vaccinate against the EEE virus.

The Shawano-Menominee Counties Health Department is recommending the following tips to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Apply insect repellant to clothing and exposed skin.
  • Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquito entry.
  • Properly dispose of items that could hold water.
  • Clean roof gutters and downspouts.
  • Change water in birdbaths and pet dishes at least every three days.
  • Trim tall grass, weeds and vines since mosquitoes use these area to rest during hot daylight hours.
  • Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.

 

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