WATERTOWN — The Jefferson County Public Health Service has received word from the state Department of Health that a horse in the town of Orleans was positive for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and was euthanized.
Test results are pending for two other horses residing in the same area who were exhibiting similar symptoms and were also euthanized.
According to a statement from Public Health, EEE is very rare but serious. Mosquitoes infected with EEE virus (EEEV) can infect people, horses and other mammals, some birds, reptiles and amphibians. About five to 10 EEE human cases are reported each year in the United States. Five cases of EEE in people in New York have been reported since 1971, with all five of the infected people dying. These cases were reported in 1971, 1983, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and occurred in Oswego and Onondaga counties.
The risk of getting EEE is highest from late July through September, according to Public Health. People at the
greatest risk of developing severe disease are those over 50 years of age and younger than 15 years of age.
There is no specific treatment available for EEE.
Public Health says to help prevent EEE, people should keep yards free from standing water to reduce the mosquito population near homes. Horse owners should speak to their veterinarians about vaccination against EEE.