The Indiana Department of Health is warning Hoosiers about a rare virus that is transmitted through mosquito bites.
Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has been affecting horses, especially in northern Indiana. However, this virus can also affect people. So far this year, three horses have tested positive in Indiana. There have not been any reported cases of human sickness or infected mosquitoes yet.
According to the CDC, “Although rare, EEE is very serious. Approximately 30% of people with EEE die and many survivors have ongoing neurologic problems.” People younger than 15 or older than 50 are most at risk of severe illness if infected.
In humans, the virus can cause a fever, different diseases and infections of the brain, and other symptoms. In horses, the virus can lead to a coma, fever, seizures, and more.
The risk of the virus will go down as the colder weather comes. In the meantime, the Indiana Department of Health has suggestions on how to protect yourself and your family.
Some suggestions include:
1. Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn, and early morning).
2. Use an EPA-registered insect repellent.
3. Cover exposed skin in places where mosquitoes are especially active, such as wooded areas.
4. Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
5. Vaccinate horses for EEE annually according to guidelines from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
In addition, some ways you can help keep mosquitoes away from your home include:
1. Discarding any containers that can hold water.
2. Repairing failed septic systems.
3. Keeping grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed.
4. Cleaning clogged roof gutters.
If you believe you have been infected, it is important to seek medical care immediately. If your horses are showing symptoms, contact a vet.