State vet reports on first Eastern Equine Encephalitis infection: Residents advised to guard against bites
Dr. H. Wesley Towers, Delaware state veterinarian, announced that a horse from the Townsend area of Delaware has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a mosquito-borne viral disease. The horse had not been vaccinated and was euthanized.
A specimen was collected from the horse on Aug. 17, and sent to the Division of Public Health Laboratory for testing.
This is the second detection of EEE within the lower southwest portion of New Castle Co. in the past few weeks (the first being a sentinel chicken which tested positive for blood drawn on July 26).
According to Dr. Towers, “Horses with EEE display symptoms such as loss of coordination, blindness, circling to the right or left, aimless walking (walking through fences or into objects). The symptoms progress to inability to stand, convulsions, coma, and death. In horses, death results in most cases. An EEE vaccine for horses does exist. I urge all horse owners to contact their veterinarians and have their horses vaccinated to prevent this disease.”
People in the area are advised to take precautions against mosquito bites because there is no vaccination against this very virulent form of encephalitis, which is often fatal in humans, especially for infants, children and the elderly.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are no effective drugs to treat the symptoms in humans, which “range from mild flu-like illness to frank encephalitis, coma and death.”
Common sense precautions against insect bites are: wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants outdoors, apply insect repellent containing 10-30 percent DEET to skin and avoiding mosquito-infested areas.
DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section will expand monitoring efforts in the area where the horse lived via light trap collections of adult mosquitoes, larval inspections of any standing water, landing rate counts taken by field inspectors, and investigations of any public reports of high numbers of biting mosquitoes. DNREC will use trucks or aircraft to apply EPA-registered insecticides as warranted to reduce significant adult mosquito populations. In accordance with EPA determinations, these products pose no unacceptable risks to human health, wildlife or the environment.
Water management practices and using insecticides to control larval mosquitoes in their breeding habitats will also continue to the extent practicable. However, the overwhelming amount of breeding habitats currently found throughout much of Delaware from this year’s heavy and frequent rains is diminishing mosquito control’s ability to achieve discernable relief through larviciding in some areas.
Homeowners can help reduce the spread of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and other mosquito borne viruses by draining mosquito-breeding areas such as upright wheelbarrows, old tires, discarded cans and barrels, flower pot liners and clogged gutters. Water in birdbaths and children’s wading pools should be changed frequently.
For questions about Eastern Equine Encephalitis in horses, call DDA at (800) 282-8685 and ask for poultry and animal health.
For human health questions about Eastern Equine Encephalitis, call DPH at (302) 739-5617.
For questions about mosquito control, call DNREC at (302) 739-3493.
Visually Impaired Support Group|
The Seaford Visually Impaired Support Group meets in the activity room of the Methodist Manor House from 1:30-3 p.m. on Sept. 2 and 16. Anyone with a vision problem or his or her care-giver is welcome to attend. There is no charge and the group is open to the public. Contact Robert Gray at 629-6204.