Eastern Equine Encephalitis found in Suffolk

Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mosquitoes in several areas of Suffolk have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a disease that can be transmitted to horses and humans.

The city’s Mosquito Control Division has found mosquitoes infected with the disease in the Lake Kennedy, Wonderland Forest, Dayle Acres, Bennett’s Harbor and Huntersville neighborhoods, as well as in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

“Horse owners should take the necessary steps to vaccinate their horses for insect transmitted diseases,” Charles Abadam, the superintendent of Mosquito Control, said in a news release.

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Eastern Equine Encephalitis is rarely transmitted to humans, but when it is, it can be deadly. It affects only five to 10 humans annually in the United States. It begins with mild flu-like symptoms and progresses into disorientation, seizures, coma, inflammation on the brain and, in the most severe cases, death.

No cases in humans have ever been reported in Suffolk. However, horses infected with the disease are common.

A vaccination for horses is available, Abadam said in the release. Horse owners should contact their veterinarian immediately about getting a vaccination.

Mosquito activity in the city has increased this year, according to the release. Mosquito Control is intensifying operations in the areas where positive EEE tests were found, including such efforts as mosquito surveillance, treatment of standing water and evening spray applications.

Residents can help, too, by emptying water-holding containers in their yard (buckets, drums, bottles, tin cans, wheelbarrows, potted plant trays, etc.), properly disposing of used tires, clearing roof gutters and downspouts, cleaning wading and swimming pools and draining water from tarps.

To decrease your chances of getting bitten by a mosquito, remain indoors during the times of highest mosquito activity (one hour before dusk to one hour before dawn), wear loose, long and light-colored clothing when outdoors, and use insect repellants containing DEET.

Lastly, residents can place Mosquito Dunks in stagnant water areas around their home, including ditches and other low-lying areas. To get the free Mosquito Dunks, you must be 18 years of age or older, have proof of residence in the city, provide proper picture identification and sign the information sheet at the pickup location. They can be picked up at any of the following locations:

  • Fire Station 1, 400 Market St.
  • Fire Station 3, 1001 White Marsh Road
  • Fire Station 4, 837 Lake Kilby Road
  • Fire Station 5, 3901 Bridge Road
  • Fire Station 6, 300 Kings Fork Road
  • Fire Station 7, 6666 O’Kelly Road
  • Fire Station 8, 6235 Whaleyville Blvd.
  • Fire Station 9, 300 Kings Highway
  • Fire Station 10, 4869 Bennetts Pasture Road
  • Suffolk Municipal Center, 441 Market St.
  • Suffolk Public Works Administration, 440 Market St.
  • East Suffolk Recreation Center, 138 S. Sixth St.