Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Thomas County

By Kate Gaier
4:30pm August 18, 2006

It's known as the most serious mosquito-borne disease in the United States. Approximately 30 percent of those infected will die from it. It’s Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and a case is confirmed in a horse in Thomas County.

Martin Wood owns more than 30 horses and says he's familiar with the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus.

Wood says he's not too concerned hearing that a horse in Thomas County has been infected with the deadly disease.

Wood said, "Prevent, prevent, prevent because mosquito born diseases are a fact of life down here, and quite frankly it's the sort of thing that a little bit of precaution saves a whole lot of trouble later on."

Environmental specialists say there is no need to panic, but residents do need to be informed. Although most cases of EEE occur in animals, humans can get the disease from an infected mosquito.

Bob Pontello, an environmental specialist, said, "It is treatable to some extent. They can work on the symptoms and hopefully your body will overcome the effects of the virus and it will die off."

In some instances, if a person’s body can't fight the virus they can die.

Sally Woods says she's concerned.

"That, to me, would be a major concern, a major concern. Encephalitis is not anything that I don't think anybody would want to have any problem with, but we need to be very much aware of it."

Be aware and take precautions. Experts say both are your best defense. To protect against mosquito bites, avoid outdoor activity during dawn and dusk, and wear insect repellents that include deet.