SHAWANO COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) – A horse has tested positive for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), reports the Shawano-Menominee Counties Health Department.
According to a release, this is the first confirmed case of EEE found in a horse in Shawano County and the fifth case in horses reported in the state this year. Calumet County confirmed their first case in August.
So far, health officials say there are no EEE cases reported to be in humans this year; however, they do report there were two humans infected in 2020.
How can you get infected?
Health officials say the virus is spread to humans, horses, and other animals through an infected mosquito bite.
How does this happen? A mosquito will become infected with EEE if it feeds on an infected bird. Officials stress that this virus does not get infected from human to horse, horse to another animal, etc. It gets transferred through a third party – a mosquito.
This positive case means there are mosquitos in Shawano County that could be carrying the EEE virus.
Will you get sick?
Health officials explain that many people do not get sick when they are infected with the virus.
They do report that when people do get sick, they develop a fever, headache, chills, and vomiting. The illness may become severe though. If it does, health officials say it will result in encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), disorientation, seizures, coma, or death.
Currently, there are no vaccines or treatments for EEE available for people.
Signs of EEE in a horse
The following are a few signs you can look for that may indicate your horse has EEE:
- Loss of appetite
- Drooping eyelids and lower lip
There is a vaccine for horses that owners can get to protect them from becoming ill.
How to protect from mosquito bites
Officials say you should try to mosquito-proof your home and avoid bites by doing the following:
- Apply an insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 to exposed skin and clothing.
- Treat clothing with permethrin; do not apply permethrin directly to skin before going outside.
- Wear long-sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors to help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
- Remove stagnant water from items around your property, such as tin cans, plastic containers, flower pots, discarded tires, roof gutters, and downspouts to prevent mosquitoes from breeding around your home.
- Change the water in bird baths and pet dishes at least every three days.
- Trim or mow tall grass, weeds, and vines since mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.
For more tips, you can go to the Wisconsin DHS website.