Equine encephalitis found in county

Virus is transmitted by mosquitoes
By: 

Leader Staff

Shawano County health officials reported Tuesday that a horse in the county has tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis.

Officials wouldn’t say where in the county the horse was located.

“I can’t disclose that,” said Vicki Dantoin, Shawano County public health director.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection reported the positive test result to the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.

The EEE virus is transmitted to humans, horses, birds and other animals during bites from infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes acquire EEE virus by feeding on infected birds. The virus is not transmitted person to person or directly between animals or between animals and humans. Presence of an EEE positive horse confirms that there are mosquitoes in the area infected with the EEE virus that can transmit the virus to people and other animals.

No EEE cases in humans have been reported in Wisconsin this year or any year since 2011. The human EEE case in 2011 was only the second case known to have occurred in Wisconsin since 1964.

Most people infected with EEE virus do not have symptoms. However, some infected people develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) that typically begins with sudden onset of fever, headache, chills and vomiting. The illness may become severe resulting in disorientation, seizures, coma or death. There is no specific treatment.

Clinical signs of EEE infection in horses include depression, loss of appetite, drooping eyelids and lower lip, blindness, paralysis and death. Horse owners can vaccinate their horses against the EEE virus.

Because EEE virus is known to be currently circulating, Wisconsin residents and visitors to the state should be vigilant in taking measures to prevent mosquito bites, public health officials said. It is important that people contact their health care provider if they suspect they have EEE illness.

Dantoin said that with fall approaching, the mosquito population will luckily be declining, but care should still be taken to avoid mosquito bites.

The best way to avoid mosquito-borne diseases is to reduce exposure to mosquitoes and eliminate mosquito breeding sites. When cold weather arrives, the mosquitoes will be eliminated, but until then people are urged to take measures to protect themselves.

The Shawano-Menominee Counties Health Department recommends the following:

• Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

• Apply insect repellent to clothing as well as exposed skin since mosquitoes may bite through clothing.

• Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquito entry.

• Properly dispose of items that hold water, such as tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or discarded tires.

• Clean roof gutters and downspouts for proper drainage.

• Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, boats, and canoes when not in use.

• Change the water in birdbaths and pet dishes at least every three days.

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs; drain water from pool covers.

• Trim tall grass, weeds, and vines since mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.

• Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.

ONLINE

For information about EEE virus, visit http://www.cdc.gov/easternequineencephalitis.