Two new cases of EEE in Suffolk

Published 10:31 pm Friday, August 19, 2016

Four cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis have now been found in Suffolk this summer, prompting health officials to urge horse owners to vaccinate their animals and caution humans to avoid mosquitoes.

The two new cases identified in Suffolk this week were the fifth and sixth in Virginia this year, following cases in Chesapeake and Prince George County as well as two earlier ones in Suffolk.

Both recent cases from Suffolk resulted in the horses, a male Paint and an Arabian filly, being euthanized. Neither had up-to-date vaccinations.

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EEE is a mosquito-borne illness that causes swelling of the brain and spinal cord and is also called “sleeping sickness.”  Symptoms include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death. It takes three to 10 days for signs of the disease to appear after a bite from an infected mosquito. The disease has a high mortality rate.

The vaccine must be given at least two weeks prior to the bite for it to be effective.

“One of the reasons most veterinarians recommend a six-month vaccination schedule in Tidewater Virginia is because of the prevalence of mosquitoes in the area,” Dr. Charles Broaddus, state veterinarian, stated in a press release from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Broaddus also encouraged horse owners and others to take measures to reduce the mosquito population.

The City of Suffolk Public Works Mosquito Control continues to detect EEE virus activity in mosquito pools from neighborhoods across the city, according to a city press release. Increased mosquito surveillance, treatment of standing water and evening spray applications for adult mosquitoes are also being administered.

The mosquitoes that were found with EEE rarely bite humans, but residents should still take precautions.

“The most important way to prevent EEE and other diseases carried by mosquitoes is to fight the bite,” said Dr. Christopher Wilson, Western Tidewater Health District director. “It’s simple to help reduce the mosquito population near where you live, work, and play. To keep mosquitoes from biting you, cover your skin with clothing or mosquito repellent when you’re outside.”

Residents can protect themselves from excess mosquito bites by taking the following steps:

4Remain inside from one hour before dusk to one hour before dawn, the times of prime mosquito activity

4Wear loose, long and light-colored clothing when outdoors

4Use insect repellants containing DEET according to the label instructions

Residents can also help by dumping standing water from buckets, old tires, tarps and the like in their yards. They can also pick up free Mosquito Dunks to place in stagnant water near their homes.

The Mosquito Dunks are available at city fire stations, the Mosquito Control office, the Media and Community Relations office in City Hall, East Suffolk and Whaleyville recreation centers and all three city library branches.

Call 514-7609 for more information about mosquito control in Suffolk.