Tampa, Florida-- The Florida Department of Health, Hillsborough County has confirmed that a horse in the northwestern part of the County was infected with locally acquired Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
Due to the horse's infection, and the recent mosquito-borne advisory issued for Hillsborough County because of a human case of EEE in March, the Florida Department of Health wants locals to be cautious.
"Preventing mosquito bites can protect your health," said Dr. Douglas Holt, MD, Director, Florida Department of Health, Hillsborough County. "That's why it's important for residents and visitors alike to protect themselves from mosquitoes and the illnesses they can transmit."
According to Dr. Holt, it's important for residents to stay vigilant year round because arboviruses' like EEE, and West Nile Virus remain active in our community year round.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a rare disease that is caused by a virus spread by infected mosquitoes. The EEE virus is one of a group of mosquito-transmitted viruses that can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).
In the United States, approximately 5-10 EEE cases are reported annually. EEE is only transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, and does not occur directly from person to person.
According to the Florida Department of Health, Hillsborough County, initial symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
The disease can also progress to more severe symptoms such as altered mental status, seizures, coma and death.
Hillsborough County's health department is working closely with Hillsborough County Mosquito and Aquatic Weed Control to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne disease throughout the county.
In the meantime, they are continuing to remind all residents and visitors to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
They have provided simple, yet effective tips on how to limit exposure:
DRAIN and COVER:
- Drain standing water near your home and/or business to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites and the diseases they carry.
- Old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren't being used
EMPTY and CLEAN:
- Birdbaths and pet's water bowls at least once or twice a week
- Boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don't accumulate water
MAINTAIN: The water balance (pool chemistry) of swimming pools. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
KEEP THEM OUT:
- Protective clothing: If you must be outside when mosquitoes are active, cover up. Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long sleeves.
- Repellent: Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing. Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective. Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months.
- Keep mosquitoes out of your house. Repair broken screens on windows, doors, porches, and patios.
Click here for more information on preventing mosquito-borne disease.