Three Cases of EEE Virus Confirmed in Gilchrist County Horses
Published July 17th, 2013
TRENTON - Three new cases of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) have health officials on alert in Gilchrist County.
Three horses on a property just south of the town of Bell tested positive for the virus. Those horses later died.
Just like West Nile, EEE is spread by mosquitoes, which pick up the virus by feeding off another infected animal. Once infected, a horse has only about a 10 percent chance of surviving.
Despite its name, the eastern "equine" encephalitis virus doesn't just affect horses. Gilchrist County Health Department officials say it can be just as dangerous if transmitted to a human.
"Horses are used as an indicator, and when you have a viral load that's sufficient to have a horse exhibit severe symptoms, then you know you have a viral load that's certainly sufficient to infect a human, and that's our concern," said Wesley Asbell, Gilchrist County's Environmental Health Director.
So far, Gilchrist County has not seen any human cases of the virus. Officials want to keep it that way by urging residents to take all the normal precautions against mosquitoes.
While there is no cure for EEE, veterinarians say there is a vaccine for horses that will prevent the virus from spreading. None of the three horses in Bell were administered the vaccine.
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