Indianapolis (WNDU) – The Indiana Department of Health is urging people to protect themselves from mosquito bites after the detection of Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE) in multiple counties in northern Indiana.
As of October 4, 2022, two horses in Lagrange County and one horse in Kosciuszko County have tested positive for EEE virus. So far this year, Indiana has reported no cases of human EEE virus or infected mosquitoes.
The risk of EEE infection is decreasing as it gets colder, but health officials say the risk isn’t eliminated until the first overnight sharp freeze (32°F).
Health officials recommend the following precautions for those at risk:
- Avoid going outdoors when mosquitoes are most active (especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn, and early morning).
- Using an EPA-registered repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, lemon eucalyptus oil, or 2-undecanone on clothing or exposed skin
- Wear a hat, long sleeves, and long pants to cover exposed skin, especially in areas where mosquitoes are active, such as wooded areas.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home
- Vaccinate horses with EEE annually according to the guidelines of the American Association of Equine Practitioners
You can eliminate mosquito breeding grounds from your property by taking the following steps:
- Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots, or other containers that can hold water.
- Repair a failed corrupt system
- Drill a hole in the bottom of an abandoned recycling bin
- Cut grass short and trim shrubs
- Clean clogged roof gutters, especially if leaves tend to clog drains
- Change the water in the pet bowl frequently
- Regular flushing of ornamental fountains and bird baths
- Inflate ornamental pools and keep predatory fish
Although rare, EEE can cause serious illness, with a fatality rate of about 33% or higher. Many who recover can still experience long-term complications.
Symptoms of EEE include chills, fever, body aches, and joint pain. Some people develop a more serious form of the disease that affects the nervous system and causes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
People under the age of 15 and over the age of 50 are most at risk of severe disease from EEE. Call your healthcare provider if you think you may have EEE.
EEE in horses is often referred to as “sleeping sickness” because infected animals become comatose. Other clinical signs may include listlessness, high fever, head press, and seizures. Horses with EEE rarely survive.
Infected mosquitoes carry the virus. It is not transmitted from horse to horse or from horse to human. Call your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs. EEE testing is available.
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