EEE, West Nile viruses found

Published 9:57 pm Thursday, June 30, 2016

Dangerous mosquito-borne viruses have been found recently in a variety of neighborhoods around Suffolk, and one infected horse in the city had to be euthanized, officials said on Thursday.

West Nile Virus has been detected in a mosquito pool in the Lake Kennedy area, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus has been detected in the Lake Kennedy, Lamb Avenue, Portsmouth Boulevard commuter lot, Burnett’s Mill, Rivercliff, Dayle Acres and Pughsville areas of the city, officials stated in a press release.

The Virginia Department of Health announced that its staff had found a horse with EEE on a property off Route 460 near the Isle of Wight County border. The Saddlebred mare began exhibiting symptoms on June 22 and had to be euthanized on June 23, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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The mosquitos found with EEE rarely bite humans, according to Suffolk spokeswoman Diana Klink, but officials were nonetheless warning residents to take precautions against the disease, which affects horses far more commonly than people.

EEE causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, and symptoms in horses include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death, according to VDACS, whose press release on the recent case stated that it can take three to 10 days for symptoms to manifest themselves.

Last year, Virginia had three cases of EEE reported, including one in Suffolk.

Since the disease has a mortality rate of 80 to 90 percent, preventing the disease from starting is vitally important, officials stated.

Horse owners are encouraged to work with their veterinarians to plan a vaccination schedule for their animals, and city officials are working to reduce mosquito populations.

According to Klink, Suffolk Mosquito Control has increased “mosquito surveillance” and is expanding its treatment of standing water and evening spraying program.

Officials are also asking residents for their help in the effort, suggesting the following steps for limiting the places where disease-carrying mosquitos might survive:

  • Empty water-holding containers such as buckets, drums, bottles, tin cans, wheelbarrows, potted plant trays and so on.
  • Properly dispose of used tires.
  • Clear roof gutters, downspouts and corrugated black drainpipes.
  • Clean wading and swimming pools.
  • Drain water from tarps.
  • Place Mosquito Dunks in stagnant water areas around your home, including ditches and low-lying areas.

Free Mosquito Dunks are available, with some restrictions, from a variety of locations around Suffolk, including most fire stations, City Hall, the city’s libraries and the East Suffolk and Whaleyville recreation centers.

For more information, call Suffolk Mosquito Control at 514-7609.