According to an April 26 ProMED report, Venezuela's Animal Health Service, Ministry of Agriculture recently reported a case of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in a horse from the district Bolivar in the state of Yaracauy. The case was originally detected during the week of March 21-27. Another suspected case reported during the week of Feb. 8-14 from the state of Barinas tested negative for EEE and Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE).

EEE, which is spread by the bites of infected mosquitoes, is endemic in the coastal regions of North America, throughout the Caribbean and Central America, and along the northeastern coast of South America. EEE, VEE, and Western equine encephalitis can cause severe neurological disease in horses and humans, although infection can be subclinical or mild.

Regional health authorities were encouraged to increase epidemiological surveillance (serology and entomology) for mosquito-borne disease.

ProMED reported that neurological disease is most severe in EEE infection, and in horses the case fatality rate might reach 50-90%. "Humans and equines are considered to be dead-end hosts for EEEV; the virus being maintained by several mosquito vectors through complex endemic and epidemic cycles in wild animals and birds," the report said.

The report added that EEEV was first isolated in Venezuela from sentinel hamsters in 1973.


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