By: Aubrey Brown | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 7, 2018
COLQUITT COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- Health officials in Georgia confirm a horse in Colquitt County has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
“EEE is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system and is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes,” said Colquitt County Environmental Health County Manager Lawanda Lovett.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, symptoms in horses include fever, depression, lack of appetite, facial paralysis, tongue weakness, difficulty swallowing, behavioral changes, gait abnormalities, or severe central nervous system problems, such as head-pressing, circling, blindness, and seizures.
Officials say death can occur within two to three days even with intensive care.
A vaccine to protect against EEE is available for horses, but not for humans.
“Horses that have been vaccinated in past years will need an annual booster shot," Lovett advised. "In areas with a long mosquito season, veterinarians might recommend two boosters per year—one in the spring and one in the fall."
According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many people who are infected with EEE virus have no obvious symptoms.
People who do develop the illness may experience flu-like symptoms, inflammation of the brain, coma or death. Health officials say there is no specific treatment for EEE in humans and the mortality rate is about one-third, making it one of the most deadly mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.