First Florida EEE Case Reported for 2005

Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services (FACS) Commissioner Charles H. Bronson says this year's first case of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has been reported in Union County and he is urging horse owners to have their animals vaccinated against mosquito-borne diseases.

The 3-year-old horse was seen by a local veterinarian who suspected EEE. On March 22, lab testing confirmed the diagnosis of EEE. The testing also revealed an exposure to the West Nile virus (WNV), which FACS officials said may have complicated the horse's condition.

"Horse owners have done a good job in getting their animals properly vaccinated over the past few years and we have seen a significant drop in the number of equine WNV cases," Bronson said. "But it is critical that we don't become complacent. Mosquito season is upon us and the chances of contracting these diseases have, of course, increased. Horse owners are reminded that their animals' vaccinations must be up to date, including the necessary booster shots."

In 2004, there were 48 reported cases of EEE in horses and six confirmed equine WNV cases. That compares with nearly 500 reported WNV cases in 2002. A vaccination against WNV became available in the summer of 2001 and EEE vaccinations have been around for years.

Bronson is also urging Florida residents and visitors to take precautions against mosquito bites to reduce the chance of contracting mosquito-borne illnesses. People are urged to avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active and, if they must be outside at those times, to wear loose-fitting, long-sleeve shirts and pants. People are also urged to use mosquito repellent containing DEET. Residents should take steps to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds on their property by removing standing water from birdbaths, kiddie pools, old tires and other items where water can accumulate.

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