Eastern Equine Encephalitis Case Confirmed in Florida

The first 2010 case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Florida's Marion county was confirmed May 24. A horse in the northwestern part of the county contracted EEE and was euthanized, according to a spokesperson for the Marion County Health Department.

EEE is a mosquito-borne disease that can affect horses, humans, and some birds. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), equine signs of EEE can include behavioral changes, loss of appetite, and fever. In 12 to 24 hours that can progress to dementia with head pressing, teeth grinding, circling, and often blindness. EEE is fatal in up to 90% of cases, and surviving horses often have residual mental dullness.

"We are recommending to people who have horses that they get them vaccinated," said Johnny Thompson, a spokesman for the Marion County Health Department. In addition, he said the department recommends that people practice a prevention program consisting of the "5-Ds."

  • Dusk and Dawn: Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Dress: Wear clothing that covers the skin.
  • DEET: Repellents containing DEET are recommended, as are Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Drainage: Check homes and horse property to rid areas of standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.

About the Author

Tracy Gantz

Tracy Gantz is a freelance writer based in Southern California. She is the Southern California correspondent for The Blood-Horse and a regular contributor to Paint Horse Journal, Paint Racing News, and Appaloosa Journal.

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