Marion continues to experience new cases of EEE; residents encouraged to take precautions, vaccinate their horses
August 06, 2018
OCALA, Fla.—Marion County has continued to experience new cases of eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, recently as additional animals became sick with the virus. Eleven horses and two emus have died of the virus in the county this year.
The community remains under a mosquito-borne illness advisory due to EEE activity in the county. Residents face an increased risk of disease being spread from mosquitoes through mosquito bites due to the number of local EEE cases. Deaths in horses and emus are a sign of increased spread of the virus in a community.
EEE is a typically fatal virus in our equine population and can have severe effects (including death) in humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people most at risk for infection with EEE include those who work outside or spend time doing outdoor recreational activities because of added exposure to potentially infected mosquitoes. People involved with the care of emus with EEE virus infection can also be exposed by direct contact with infected birds or their bodily fluids or waste.
The Florida Department of Health recommends that people take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes due to the heightened risk of disease transmission.
“If you’re going to spend time outdoors, you need to take preventative actions to avoid exposure to mosquitoes,” said Florida Department of Health in Marion County Health Officer Mark Lander. “Drain standing water around your home or property, cover your skin with clothing or repellent and work with a veterinarian to have your horses vaccinated for EEE if they are not currently vaccinated. Please consult your veterinarian or the University of Florida College of Large Animal Medicine for information on how to prevent EEE through vaccination in animals such as emus, alpacas and llamas.”
The department continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, chikungunya, and dengue. For more information, visit www.floridahealth.gov/%5C/diseases-and-conditions/mosquito-borne-diseases. For more information on eastern equine encephalitis, go to www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/eastern-equine-encephalitis.