OBSERVER Staff Report
MAYVILLE - The Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services was notified Friday of its first case ever of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in a privately owned horse in the town of Kiantone. The horse developed neurological symptoms and was euthanized. It was subsequently tested and results confirmed that the horse had EEE. This diagnosis follows a summer of unprecedented EEE activity in the area where the horse was stabled. This is the first ever case of equine EEE in the county and the first equine case in New York state in 2013.
Chautauqua County has been on heightened alert against EEE as a result of 26 positive mosquito pools since Aug. 9 and the declaration of an Imminent Threat to Public Health for mosquito-borne disease by New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah. Aerial spraying of adult mosquitoes in targeted areas of the towns of Kiantone and Carroll on Aug. 25 resulted in significantly decreased numbers of mosquitoes in collection traps as well as significantly lower EEE infection rates.
The EEE and WNV are serious viral diseases that are transmitted to mammals - including horses and people - through the bite of an infected mosquito. These viruses are not spread people to people, horses to people, or horses to horses.
"While it's concerning to have a horse contract and succumb to the EEE virus, considering all of the EEE positive mosquito pools that we've had this past month, I'm not entirely surprised," said Christine Schuyler, director of DHHS. "It is most important to remember that both of these diseases are preventable. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes."
"We want to urge everybody to use effective insect repellent with DEET and to wear long sleeves and pants while outside at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active," Schuyler continued. "Also, eliminate places where water can collect on your property, such as pool covers and flower pots, that allow mosquitoes to breed, and have your horses vaccinated."
The public health threat declaration remains in effect. DHHS is working with medical providers and veterinarians to ensure the public's health through surveillance for these diseases and proactive prevention and control strategies.
"Fortunately, temperatures are dropping and mosquito activity will decline with that drop, Schuyler said. "Personal protective measures should be followed until the first killing frost."
For more information on EEE, please visit www.myhealthycounty.com, www.health.ny.gov/diseases/west-nile-virus/fact-sheet.htm, or www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/eastern-equine-encephalitis/fact-sheet.htm
The NYSDOH 2012 Mosquito Borne Illness Surveillance & Response Plan can be found at: www.health.ny.gov/diseases/west-nile-virus/docs/2012-mosquito-borne-illness-surveillance-and-response-plan.pdf.