WORCESTER CO., Md. - The Maryland Department of Agriculture says that a horse in Worcester County tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis, and has died. This is the first confirmed case of EEE in Maryland since 2009, when a horse in Wicomico County tested positive.
The MDA says EEE is spread by mosquitoes, much like West Nile Virus. The disease is rare in humans, but can occur, so the MDA advises protecting yourself against mosquito bites. Officials say that EEE, happens to humans less frequently than WNV, but can be more serious. Typical symptoms of EEE in humans include fever, headache, mental confusion, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, joint pain, and sometimes seizures and coma.
The MDA says that well vaccinated horses, are usually safe from EEE, and that the horse in Worcester County was not vaccinated. Infected horses symptoms generally include depression, altered mental status, circling, problems with balance, weakness, aimless wandering, impaired vision, walking (gait) abnormalities, head pressing, paralysis, convulsions and death.
In the wake of the discovery of EEE in Worcester County, officials will be increasing the amount of ground spraying for mosquitoes, over the next two weeks.
Measures people can take to protect themselves from diseases spread by mosquitoes include:
· Avoid areas of high mosquito activity
· Avoid unnecessary outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active
· Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats to reduce mosquito exposure
· Use an EPA-registered insect repellent according to package directions
For additional information on West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne viruses, visit:
· Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
· Maryland Department of Agriculture
· Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis