Residents on Alert Over Mosquito-Borne Illness

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Grady County is the third local county to confirm a case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis within the past month, and county health officials say mosquitoes are the enemy.

Bob Pontello of the Grady County Health Department says, "Anything you can do to keep from being bitten by a mosquito is going to be to your advantage."

A mosquito-borne disease, Eastern Equine Encephalitis is rare, but health officials say it can be fatal. Doctors say symptoms are very similar to the flu at first.

Dr. Kimberly Harbin of Grady General Hospital says, "In humans, it causes mild symptoms that can be as simple as fever or sore body aches, no symptoms, or severe symptoms; encephalitis, which is actually swelling of the brain."

The Grady County case was discovered when a vet diagnosed a horse with the disease. County health officials say that when the disease turns up in a horse, it's a key indicator that the disease is in the area.

Pontello says, "Our intent here is to let the general public know that it is in their community, and to do everything you can to protect yourself from being bitten by mosquitoes."

Grady County health officials suggest residents reduce mosquitoes in their area by using insect repellent and draining any standing water.

No human cases of encephalitis have been diagnosed in Grady County yet, and health officials hope with the right precautions it can stay that way.

In Florida, Leon and Gadsden Counties both confirmed separate human cases of encephalitis earlier this month.